Memorial Day Help

On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis

Andrew Curtis | June 4, 2024

Some jobs just don’t get enough recognition. Some jobs are taken for granted by the very people who benefit the most from the work. Some jobs are just plain difficult and require standing firm on principle even in the face of upsetting others. And heaven forbid, some jobs require working on holidays.

Game wardens reading this would most likely raise their hands in acceptance of these statements describing their job. Unfortunately, wardens are sometimes talked about in a rather poor light. No one wants to get pulled over on the lake for a violation or get caught in the woods doing something that earns a fine.

But… it’s not the game warden’s fault. Whether you agree with the outdoor laws or not, they are still the laws, and we must obey them or expect the consequences. The law-enforcement officers can be the scapegoats, even though they are simply doing their job. They can’t help it if some of the laws are distasteful to some people.

I am going to tell a story of a recent encounter with two game wardens on the rough Lake Oconee waters of Memorial Day weekend. My two young boys and my little niece were riding on the WaveRunner with me in the middle of the busy lake when our watercraft broke down. The realization suddenly hit me that I had left my phone at the house. Boats were zooming by coming from every which-a-way, the large wakes nearly flipping our WaveRunner. My 4-year-old began to get scared, and I held him close as I flagged down someone for help.

A girl on a WaveRunner idled over to us, and after I explained our dilemma, she let me use her phone to call my wife. The girl then went to find help. Just minutes later, two game wardens arrived in their boat, explaining that the young girl had informed them of our location.

Sergeant Wil Smith and his work partner, whose name I did not catch, calmly took over the situation with complete professionalism. Efficiently, safely and compassionately, the two men helped us onto their boat and then hooked a towing strap to our WaveRunner, following every precaution and protocol that they had been taught.

After apologizing for being forbidden from towing us to our dock (because of understandable time and financial reasons), they took us and our WaveRunner to the nearest dock and allowed a phone call to ensure that we had someone available to tow us.

They actually stayed nearby until our help showed up, and then I saw the two wardens head farther out into the lake. As I watched their boat’s silhouette shrink, I regretted my failure to express my complete gratitude for their service. I thought about how appreciative I was for all of our men and women in uniform serving this country. I was out there having fun and on vacation while those wardens and so many others were working, so that we could have a memorable holiday weekend. Their job may not be a glamorous one, but it’s certainly a necessary one.

A pontoon boat cruised by at that moment with a giant American flag flapping proudly in the wind. All the boats in my view on that section of the lake seemed to catch my attention at once, reminding me of the freedom we have, and it felt appropriate to take a few minutes of silence to remember all the Americans who have died in military uniforms while serving this great country. That’s what Memorial Day is all about… remembering the fallen.

I will also remember the two game wardens on Lake Oconee that day, their lives a symbolic reflection for me of the American souls who have given their all for the United States of America.

Next time you see a game warden, think about the good he or she does for us and the necessity of having people like that willing to enforce the laws that help construct a free nation like ours. Game wardens, this salute is for you!

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