As a retired civil servant with a period of Federal Service of 32 years, I want to say thank you to all the men and women who serve and have served their fellow man. From information available online, it is to be noted that in 2018-19 South Dakota had 21,956 active and retired federal and postal employees. Of this number, 11,207 are federal annuitants, 8,716 active federal employees and 2,033 U.S. postal employees.

Although the two largest employers are the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Postal Service, other leading employers are in the support of agriculture, defense, health and human services, and interior, to name a few.

Federal employees provide vital services that benefit Americans every day, yet much of this important work goes unnoticed. We see them when hurricanes strike, floods destroy communities and pandemics spread worldwide. We know that they help land our planes safely and perform inspections to maintain a healthy food and water supply.

But for every image you see on TV, thousands more work behind the scenes to keep this country running.

They process tax refunds, small business loans, stimulus payments, Social Security checks and loans for college students. They track biological threats and alert Americans to treacherous weather conditions, among other critical and life-saving tasks.

COVID-19 is the latest crisis during which we expect our civil servants to work tirelessly and often around the clock. I take comfort in knowing that our country is fortunate to have dedicated professionals who continue to selflessly serve their fellow man all for the greater good.

Throughout the year, but especially during Public Service Recognition Week May 3-9, we should gratefully acknowledge their service. While we remain shuttered indoors to fight the invisible enemy among us, let's recognize and appreciate civil servants for what they truly are: the heartbeat of America.

Karen Jensen

Sioux Falls, May 7