It’s not a Nobel Prize, nor is it any type of grant, nor is it of course the greatest reward of all – the end of the Ebola outbreak – but it is a significant and decisive title: the Ebola workers have been collectively named Time magazine’s oft-discussed “Person of the Year.”

In addition to many other conversations, the end of the year always introduces the debate of who will receive the magazine’s sometimes dubious honor. Controversial, even despicable figures have never been exempt from receiving “Person of the Year” recognition, which in recent years has led many to focus on the claim that the title is not actually an honor at all, but rather an effort to name the sole person, or group, that has had the most significant impact on the world, for better or worse.

This aspect certainly rings true for the more controversial figures (imagine if Vladmir Putin had been chosen, again), but the decision to recognize the selfless and altruistic work of those risking their lives to halt the spread of a horrific disease threatening the collapse of an entire region can only be seen as an honor, and a well-deserved one. While the invasive presence of Ebola may have faded in the United States, and with it the outbreak’s front-page presence, it is only a reflection of the paradoxical success of the Ebola workers: the less you hear about it, the more they’re winning the fight. For this reason these workers will probably always be underappreciated, with no amount of honors ever enough, but never should we stop letting them know that some of us are still paying attention.

“The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight. For tireless acts of courage and mercy, for buying the world time to boost its defenses, for risking, for persisting, for sacrificing and saving, the Ebola fighters are TIME’s 2014 Person of the Year.”