As we take a break to reconnect with family and loved ones this Thanksgiving, we can practice that habit of gratitude that many experts tell us contributes to our health and happiness.
First and foremost, as always, we thank the mariners who crew the vessels, make up the tows and break them down in all kinds of weather, pilot the boats and make sure everyone stays safe while they’re doing it. On the side, they may take time out to rescue recreational boaters or anglers in trouble, with no thought of reward other than knowing they have restored people to their families. Many of them will be celebrating Thanksgiving on their vessels, separated from their loved ones, so that we can enjoy the abundance that the barges they push help provide. We thank the people of the Seamen’s Church Institute, many of them volunteers, who serve and comfort mariners away from home.
We thank the fleet managers, shipyards, traffic coordinators and terminal operators. We thank all the businesses that supply the mariners and keep them moving—the engine and marine equipment makers, ship chandlers and boat stores.
We thank the men and women of the Coast Guard who maintain the buoys and patrol our coasts and inland waterways, keeping us safe and carrying out the will of our elected officials by enforcing regulations.
We thank the personnel of the Corps of Engineers who staff the locks and dams, work on projects to repair and expand them and maintain chevrons, islands and other river structures. We thank the mat-sinking units that place armoring for riverbanks every season.
We thank the dredge crews and the contractors who serve the Corps and the entire maritime transportation system every year by dredging inland rivers, ports and coastal waterways to keep cargoes moving. They provide millions of tons of dredged material to restore beaches, wetlands, wildlife habitat and other ecosystems. Many of them, too, will be spending Thanksgiving away from families.
Let’s not forget those who serve, not on the rivers, but in labs, offices and committee rooms, keeping a sharp eye on the taxpayers’ dollars. We thank the researchers who study and model the river systems, crunch the data, check it again and write the reports.
We would be remiss if we left out the many members of advocacy groups who help tell the story of our magnificent river system—the envy of the world in many ways — and who remind members of Congress what it takes to preserve, maintain and transmit this unparalleled legacy to our children and grandchildren.
For all of you, for all that you do, you have our appreciation.