It’s an anniversary of sorts: June 3, 1963. It is the date of my first day on the job as a Customs Examiner at the office of the Appraiser of Merchandise in the U. S. Customs Service in Houston, Texas. It was the first job offer I had after passing the Federal Service Entrance Examination while a graduate student in Government in Austin and the beginning of 34 years of continuous employment in the U. S. Government – 12 years with Customs and 22 years with the U. S. Senate. It took us, Jonnie Sue and our three children, to Southern California, where we lived in Chula Vista and I worked in San Ysidro, then to the Bay Area, where we lived in Marin County and I worked as a Special Agent mostly in San Francisco but in reality everywhere between Stockton, Eureka, and Provo, Utah; then to Washington DC on a two year transfer to the Intelligence Division to work on setting up a computerized lookout system at all the airports, seaports and border crossings; then to a short stint as a Program Analyst in the Office of the Secretary of the Treasury; then back to the Customs Service as the Deputy Director of a 200 person division working on automating the processing of commercial importations; then to 17 years as a Systems Analyst at the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, introducing new computer technology to the Senate; and finally to five years in the Senate Disbursing Office as the Project Manager for the development of a new financial management system for the Senate and for the offices of Senators and Senate Committees.
It was a good run; sometimes really exciting and rewarding. I got to do a lot of interesting and meaningful things, and I worked with some really bright, industrious, honest, and dedicated people. Indeed, two of the brightest and best people I’ve ever known worked on the Senate Finance Committee during the time that Russell Long from Louisiana was the Chairman.
It was a blessing really, in many more ways than one. And to me, it was always a vocation of public service, not just a job My experiences in moving up to positions of increasing trust and responsibility made manifest to me the truth of that remarkable saying attributed to Jonas Salk, “The reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more.” It is an important reality that should be taught to all children.
I close with a fragment from the General Thanksgiving on page 836 of the Book of Common Prayer. “O Lord,…we thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us….. Amen
And truly thankful I am.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 03-June 2014.