Honor our front-line responders

Honor our front-line responders
© AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The past year and a half have been physically exhausting and mentally draining for nearly every American. Yet, from the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, law enforcement officers, firefighters and other front-line professionals have put themselves at risk to protect our health, safeguard our communities and help our country recover. The struggles and challenges they have met head on are a testament to their dedication and commitment to keep our nation moving forward.

Within many of our local communities, gratitude has been shown to our first responders by baking meals, putting up signs or other random small acts of kindness. In Congress, one of the ways I’m seeking to forever mark the dedication of our front-line responders is by minting a coin to commemorate the selfless service throughout the pandemic. Minting coins to honor our heroes is a time-honored tradition in the United States. Since 1848, Congress has authorized the U.S. Mint to issue a limited number of commemorative coins that celebrate and recognize significant people, places, institutions and events throughout our history. Profits from the sale of these coins have raised more than $500 million for important causes such as national monuments, historic sites and Olympic programs.

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The work of our first responders and medical professionals throughout the pandemic is undoubtedly worth commemorating, which is why I, along with Rep. Joe NeguseJoseph (Joe) NeguseCO lawmakers ask DOJ to investigate police's knowledge about alleged shooter Biden addresses Coloradans after wildfires: 'Incredible courage and resolve' Overnight Energy & Environment — Virginia gears up for fight on Trump-era official MORE (D-Colo.), introduced H.R. 1900, the Coronavirus Front-Line Responders Commemorative Coin Act. This legislation would direct the Treasury Department to mint and issue a limited number of five-, one-, and half-dollar coins to commemorate the work of the front-line responders during the COVID-19 pandemic — recognizing their tireless efforts at great personal risk to keep our communities healthy and safe.

While honoring the sacrifice of first responders through a unified national symbol is valuable, it’s also important to remember that a commemorative coin like this would not merely be a hollow gesture. Under this bill, funding from sales of the coins will go to the CDC Foundation to support the health care response to infectious diseases and pandemics. The CDC Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to mobilize private-sector philanthropy in support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public health missions. During the pandemic, this work has included everything from supplying care kits and personal protective equipment for first responders to hiring surge staff and meeting the needs of communities across America.

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Additionally, the Coronavirus Front-Line Responders Commemorative Coin Act honors the selfless service of our first responders and health care community and raises funding for the CDC Foundation at no cost to the taxpayer. Combined with other bipartisan efforts in Congress, this legislation presents an opportunity for us to recognize the work done by the hundreds of thousands of first responders across the country while making a meaningful impact on the future of public health. Showing gratitude to those who’ve sacrificed so much for our country throughout the pandemic is not a partisan issue — this commemorative coin will help highlight that service while honoring all of our front-line heroes.

Jack Bergman represents Michigan’s 1st District.