"Thank You, Essential Workers!" A Reflection on Sacrifice


Little more than a year ago, all you would have seen and heard in front of St. Paul’s Chapel were empty streets and ambulance sirens. 

However, on Wednesday morning, July 7, the sidewalks were filled with parade-goers with signs that read “I ❤️ essential workers!” As shredded colored paper, the modern-day successor of actual ticker tape, flooded the air, I thought of how the building I sat in — the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan — had seen it all: the Revolutionary War, the 1918 flu pandemic, the 9/11 attacks, and now Covid-19. And, like any true New Yorker, the chapel celebrated bittersweetly with the city when those times were over, or now in our current “in-between” season, with the pandemic still with us and the trauma of it far from having passed. 

Looking north along Broadway from St. Paul's Chapel
Photo by Jewels Tauzin

That’s what this morning felt like, as New York honored and celebrated the essential workers, our “Hometown Heroes,” extraordinary people who sacrificed their comfort and safety to ensure the rest of us those same luxuries. 

We acknowledged the immense hard work it took to get here, the hours invested, the lives lost. John 15:13 reads: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” On Wednesday morning, thousands of people celebrated that universal truth — there is something holy and rare about sacrificing for another.

Health care workers at the ticker-tape parade in NYC July 7, 2021
Photo by Margaret Streeter

Terrell L. Moody, Program Coordinator for Well-Being at Trinity Church Wall Street, said, “I’m very proud of New York City, of how we banded together during the pandemic. 

“So many of our essential workers left their homes to come out and work in the hospitals, in stores, in pharmacies, and supermarkets in order to play their role in getting us through the pandemic safely and in good health. 

“I’m really glad this parade honored them and all the work that they did.”

Standing at St. Paul’s Chapel, looking out on Broadway with the parade moving north, I thought of teachers, grocery store clerks, health-care professionals, and the drivers supplying grocery stores and delivering the millions of packages that arrived on doorsteps and in apartment building lobbies over the past 16 months. They all kept our lives running when the world seemed to be falling apart. 

The ticker-tape parade not only honored their hard work and dedication, but also offered a lesson: If we are willing to reach out and help one another, we can overcome just about anything. 

Jewels Tauzin, a fourth-year student at Barnard College, grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and is working this summer as an intern in the Communication & Marketing Department at Trinity Church Wall Street.