As you settle in just after dark on Wednesday night to watch a fireworks display or enjoy some barbeque, thank a truck driver for making it possible.
Most importantly, as you contemplate the real meaning of Independence Day, remember all the good that truck drivers have done for our country. Not only are as many as one third of truck drivers today military veterans, but since the early 20th century, truck drivers have been imperative in moving soldiers and materials into position and supporting military logistics in a thousand different ways.
Critical since the beginning
Since the first efforts by European settlers along the East Coast to push inland in the mid-17th Century, we have relied on trucks, and the men and women who operate them, to move large amounts of supplies and heavy machinery. Much attention is paid by historians to the importance of railways in settling this enormous country of ours, and there’s no denying the critical role that rail transportation has played in opening up and supplying the United States. Arguably more important is the role that trucks and truckers have played.
Railroads are fantastic for moving huge amounts of material — and people — from station to station. But, all those goods would have rotted and rusted on rail loading docks and warehouses if not for the trucks that picked them up and carried them the final mile or final hundreds of miles to where they were truly needed.
So, it’s fitting that as millions of Americans celebrate our independence, we think about and celebrate the 3.5 million or so professional truck drivers among us who keep us fed, clothed, and our stores shelves well stocked.
Recognize their sacrifice
Theirs is not an easy job — keeping control of a long, complex vehicle weighing up to 80,000 pounds traveling at high speeds requires considerable physical effort and even more mental acuity and professionalism. Not only do drivers have to keep their rigs between the lines, they have to watch out for other drivers, care for their complex vehicles and loads, protect against thieves, and monitor the increasingly demanding onboard systems.
Beyond that, drivers spend much of their time away from their homes and families in order to keep the rest of us supplied. That means they have to be comfortable with a different kind of independence — the kind needed to succeed when working largely in isolation from infrastructures the rest of us think of as necessary.
So, while you’re enjoying the fireworks, barbeque, and time with your friends and family this Fourth of July, thank a truck driver for all they do, and have done, to make our country a better place.