With freedom, comes responsibility. This idea was taken for granted by my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, who lived through World War 2. Millions of men and women were in the military, fighting on the frontlines, but many more millions stayed at home and dutifully participated in supporting the war effort through their own “at home” sacrifices. U.S. citizens were issued ration cards for various food and necessary items – meats, sugar, canned milk, butter, nylons, oil and fuel - restricting their availability so that the soldiers on the front could have their needs met first.
Year after year during the war, the home front war effort was a way for all Americans to contribute to the safety and security of our nation as a whole and lend their support to those on the front lines. It was a time of self-sacrifice and a show of nation unity – everyone working for the common good. Those at home knew that each sacrifice of eating less and going without all the comforts they used to have, made the United States stronger.
Yes, there were arguments as to the necessity of the austerity of the governmental actions to ration and whining about having to go without. No one liked their lives disrupted and their usual privileges curtailed. But our great nation DID rally and they worked together at home to support the troops. Those that tried to game the system and get more than their fair share of rationed items, were looked down upon. They did not parade in the streets claiming it was their Constitutional right to have as much sugar, meat and milk as they did before the war began. There was a national spirit of unity in the face of an enemy. The average American knew they had an integral part to play in the war effort and the restrictions placed on food and fuel were not an infringement on their “rights” but a means to help preserve those rights by working together as a nation toward a common goal.
It is now our turn to prove to history that we have the same determination, the same strength of character, the same patriotism it takes to sacrifice and do without for the greater good. It is now our chance to prove that we, too, understand that with freedom, comes responsibility.
Our 2020 war is not being fought on the battlefields of Europe, Africa and Asia, but in hospitals around the world and all across the United States. The frontline soldiers are our healthcare workers. Our doctors, nurses, aides, ambulance drivers, lab technicians, and all the healthcare support staff, are experiencing an unprecedented onslaught of extremely sick Covid patients and are asking those of us at home to do our part. These Covid warriors are the same men and women that we have turned to over the course of our lives to take care of us when we are sick, when we are injured, or in life threatening situations. They are our family members and friends, neighbors, and fellow church members. In the ever growing pressure that they are facing, both physical and mental, we have a responsibility to them. If we do not step up and do our civic duty, they cannot humanly keep providing care if they are overworked, understaffed, and falling sick themselves. . They are fighting the good fight, but they haven’t the ability to keep up with the influx of new Covid patients as well as handle the “regular” patients – heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, etc.
It is simple math. Even if we set up field hospitals and fill them with beds for incoming patients, we will not have enough healthcare staff to care for the untenable number of incoming patients. Healthcare worker shortages are made worse by the fact that many of them are contracting Covid or must quarantine because of exposures. We truly are in the midst of a domestic crisis, the likes of which we have never faced before in our lifetimes. Our enemy is on U.S. soil in the form of a microscopic virus. We must all do our part to defeat it and end the rampant spread. It is an effort in which ALL of us are called to do our part.
Just as our WW2 era Americans didn’t enjoy the restrictions they faced, none of us enjoy masking up and going without the company of friends at gatherings and at the bars or restaurants. None of us relish having to refrain from meeting friends for coffee and going to a sporting event or music concert. My heart aches with longing when I see people standing unmasked, side by side on television reruns. I look at old travel photos and want to visit other parts of the world again. I want to have a huge party with all my friends and family. I want my old life back in ways I cannot even put into words. Each and every one of us longs for life B.C. – Before Covid. But that isn’t our reality at present. We are now living life I.C. - In Covid, and it is our time to be the same home front American patriots that our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents were in the 1940s. It is our time to prove to history that we can join together as a nation to work toward a common goal and defeat a common enemy – Covid-19.
This will not be accomplished through selfishness and a desire to have all the freedoms we had 9 months ago. It will be done through self-sacrifice and going without for a time. If we fail – we fail our country. If we choose to unmask, gather in large settings, disregard distancing and closures, then we work to subvert the Covid war effort and fail to keep our fellow citizens and our healthcare system safe, and thereby, weakening our nation as a whole. As our community members are infected with the virus, so too are our troops and all the people who are behind the scenes keeping us from those that would do our nation harm. This greatly weakens us as a nation. Ultimately, a weakened country is ripe for many forms of both internal and external threats.
All the flag waving, sign carrying, and protesting in the world will not show one’s devotion to our nation. Doing the very hard work of self-restraint, personal sacrifice, and doing our utmost to protect and defend our healthcare workers – our Covid war heroes – is what will determine if we can beat this enemy. With our freedom comes responsibility, and each one of us is being called to help end this war on a deadly virus. It is our moral, civic, and patriotic duty to serve our country through our simple acts of masking, distancing, hand washing and doing without, until this enemy is defeated.
November 21, 2020
I can’t imagine how difficult it’s been to operate a restaurant with periodic closures during 2020. At times, I expect the challenges of covering expenses, keeping staff employed, and maintaining customers have seemed impossible.
This morning, I read about a protest at Jimmy’s Roadhouse in Newaygo. Hundreds of people gathered there to defy the Michigan Department of HHS order to close indoor dining again. Pictures and videos of the event showed the majority of people physically close and not wearing masks.
My initial reaction to the protest was anger. This turned to frustration. Then, I felt sad about the apparent disregard for what we need to fight the virus together.
I don’t like to voice my opinion in a public forum or encourage conflict. However, based on the potential impact of this protest, I want to speak up. In the words of Albert Einstein, “If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”
Michigan added 9,779 new COVID cases on November 20, the most in a single day since the start of the pandemic. West Michigan health system officials have warned hospitals are reaching capacity and staff is being pushed to their limits. In Newaygo County, total cumulative cases have increased almost 240% in the past month (from 539 to 1,286).
I think it’s important to remember the virus is our enemy. We must stand together in this war. This is not a political battle or a threat to our personal freedoms. Science is providing facts to help us fight the virus. Organizations are gathering data to communicate the crisis our community is facing.
What happened to the Golden Rule of “treating others as you want to be treated”? What happened to treating people with respect? What happened to being concerned about the health and well being of others?
Everywhere I go, I see reminders to wear a mask, wash my hands, and stay physically distant. I can’t control the behaviors of the people who protested at Jimmy’s Roadhouse on Friday night. However, I can make different choices.
I will support local small businesses that are following State orders. I will do whatever I can to keep my family, friends, and community safe and healthy. I will be kind and considerate of others. I will stay physically distant…and wear a mask.
Be well, Cheryl McGrath
State Representative Scott VanSingel recently went through a bout with COVID-19.
He kindly accepted our request to share his story
N3-You were one of 2 legislators to make the news as being diagnosed with COVID-19. Tell us about your experience.
SVS-My experience was waking up with a rapid heart rate and fever. I knew something was wrong since I very rarely get sick. I scheduled a covid test as quickly as I could and it was no surprise that it came back positive. I was able to determine that I contracted the virus at church on a Sunday and first notice symptoms the following Thursday morning. I never got extremely sick, it was just recurring hot flashes, nausea, fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches and eventually respiratory issues. These came and went multiple times per day. It took a full two weeks before the symptoms finally went away. I consider myself to be in very good shape and couldn't believe it took me 2 weeks to beat this.
N3-Did anyone around you need to quarantine?
SVS-Thankfully because I immediately suspected this was Covid, I did not come into close contact with anyone after showing symptoms and require anyone else to quarantine. I spent the two weeks at home, watching my leaves fall and not having the energy to clean them up.
N3-Have any of your views about the virus changed since going through it?
SVS-My views of the virus have changed, especially after watching others in the community who contracted the virus have much worse symptoms than myself. I learned that this is extremely contagious, more so than the common cold or flu. It is also much, much more potent than the flu. It is something to be taken seriously and we are not immune here in rural Michigan. I've been in discussions with local health officials and we are nearing the capacity of our healthcare system. If we don't slow the spread of this virus, we will see the death rate from this skyrocket as people will go without treatment.
N3-A recent town hall by CEOs of major healthcare organizations in the state expressed concern over the spike in cases and hospitalizations and spoke to a need for the legislature and governor to come up with a coordinated plan to help mitigate the spread. Can you respond?
The House of Representatives did present a plan in recent weeks which had very specific data driven decision points and relied heavily on the assistance of local health departments rather than a one size fits all statewide approach. It's unfortunate that this has not been entertained by the executive branch and we continue to have a statewide approach for dealing with this crisis with no input from local elected officials.
N3-We continue to have people in our community resistant to heeding the recommended actions necessary to control the spread. How much importance do you place on adherence to the guidelines?
SVS-I admit I was reluctant at first to wear a mask in public, especially when the virus was not in this area. My mind has changed. While masks are not 100% effective, they are the best defense against spreading the virus. It is important that when out in public and especially when in close contact with people outside your household that you wear a mask. We must slow down the spread of the virus and it must be soon. This is the single most effective way to slow the spread other than a full quarantine which none of us want to see.
N3-Anything you care to add?
Finally, I encourage people to follow truthful sources of information. As much as people may not trust government, the actions being taken to control the spread and the data being shared comes from experts, people who have advanced degrees and have made a career out of studying public health. Even if they don't have good news, the information they provide is much more reliable than the fake news articles being shared on social media. I encourage people to seek truthful information rather than information that simply confirms our biases.
We got a problem folks.
And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon
Newaygo County has now eclipsed 1000 cases of COVID.
We’ve had 8 deaths and the pace of hospitalizations from the virus are cruising toward capacity and beyond.
And no community wants to face what ‘and beyond’ means.
The time for debating the relative authenticity regarding the pandemic and the efficacy of the preventive measures should be long past us by now. After all, science, medicine and reason outweigh conjecture and speculation right?
Because as implausible as it seems we are still having masking issues.
While certainly not limited to our community it is nonetheless our community we are speaking to when we implore everyone to just wear the damn mask.
It is not a sign of patriotism to go maskless or to make a choice to not believe the overwhelming evidence revealing the current situation. It is simply being in denial due to a lack of trust and/or the acceptance of misguided information.
And going maskless helps keep the virus thriving.
Here’s what is happening in our county
Total case trends from July to now:
July = 74
August = 47
September = 87
October = 151
November through 11/10 = 234 (that's just in 10 days!!
And from MIOSHA...
With COVID-19 cases steadily rising, MIOSHA has released updated remote work policies – requiring any employees who can work remote to do so. “Employers must prohibit in-person work when an employee’s duties can feasibly be completed away from the office. Remote work for office employees is a crucial mitigation strategy to contain the spread of COVID-19,”
And get ready when it comes to places of business because this press release from Indy Bank isn’t the last announcement of its kind we’re likely to see in the coming days...
“At Independent Bank, the health and safety of our customers, communities, and employees is our top priority. We have been closely monitoring the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic. As of November 13, 2020, all of our branch lobbies will be available by appointment only as well as for loan closings. Our drive-thrus will remain open to serve your banking needs.”
And we are just scratching the surface of what is to come should the numbers continue to climb.
We asked Newaygo County Emergency Services Director Abby Watkins for her take on our current situation.
Those acquainted with Ms. Watkins are aware of her depth of knowledge when it comes to emergency preparation and mitigation and the excellence of her work which is recognized throughout the country
Those who are not aware of the skills and knowledge she brings to the table are those who have yet to meet her.
“First and foremost, I cannot say thank you enough for the opportunity to hopefully get this message out there. We need all the help we can get to change the path we are on, which is a very dark and bleak one. I do not normally take this much of a candid approach with my messages, but right now, I feel it may be the only way the community may understand the dire nature of the situation we are in.
“To be frank, we need help. We need to change the rate of spread of COVID 19 in our community. We need everyone to step up and mask up, stay 6 feet away from others not a part of our own household, and refrain from group gatherings. If we cannot slow the spread of this virus by working together we are going to break our public health and healthcare systems. If this occurs, the services the community depends on will be limited and in some cases no longer be available due to lack of resources, which include but are not limited to personnel, supplies, hospital beds and space, medications, treatment, and emergency medical transport.
“We are already seeing our local and regional healthcare and public health resources showing warning signs of becoming overwhelmed. Although a phenomenal effort is being put forward by the healthcare system, our providers are struggling to be able to provide standard, compassionate care for our community members. If we continue at this rate of spread and are unable to slow the spread of the virus, our healthcare systems will have to start implementing alternate standards of care. This means rather than doing everything possible to try to save every life, it will be necessary to allocate scarce resources to save as many lives as possible.
“Within Newaygo County we are currently averaging 25 new COVID cases daily. In addition, four of our community members have passed away in less than 2 weeks due to the virus. This is an extreme increase in cases and community exposures to the point our health department no longer has the resources to provide positive exposure information to keep first responders safe. In addition, contact tracing which helps with limiting the spread, is now taking an extended period of time to accomplish (3-4 days) which is ineffective in trying to contain the virus.
“As the holiday season approaches and we gather with friends and family to celebrate, we are pleading for our community to please hold your celebrations in a safe manner. For now, masking up, continuing to stay 6 feet from others, and refraining from group gatherings are our best chances to avoid bringing the virus home, keeping our schools and workplaces open, and containing COVID-19. This is a very serious virus and only by working together can we overcome these challenges and change the path we are on.”
Thank you Ms. W.
And to those who have chosen the maskless route...
Please put aside whichever of the seemingly endless yet implausible arguments you have for not masking and do us all a favor. Just humor us and go along with it long enough to mitigate the spread, could you?
If it would help, just pretend you’re in the middle of an elaborate video game called ‘Fight The Pandemic’ where you use masks to deflect incoming COVID projectiles.
We don’t care how or why you do it.
Just do it.
Just wear the damn mask.
By Tim McGrath
“Home, home again. I like to be here when I can. When I come home cold and tired, it’s good to warm my bones beside the fire…”
from Time - Pink Floyd
The photos fluttered in the breezy warmth that September afternoon. Each had been carefully chosen and attached to the picture board with multi-colored push pins, or lay scattered on the small table under the board. Faces looked out from them highlighting vacations, graduations, family outings and gatherings. Smiles, lots of smiles. Each was a brief blip in time that chronicled the life of my uncle, the man we’d come to honor and remember; the last of the McGrath brothers. Some in faded color, others black and white, some out of focus or grainy. All telling the story of a life well lived. Then, there was the one I lingered on. I’d seen it before; a black and white portrait of my uncle, his five brothers and sister. Seven young people dressed in their finest. I studied the faces, thinking of how I’d come to know them, and what remarkable people they were. Grateful for what they stood for, in spite of all the hardships they endured. I smiled, remembering this is where I’m from. The place I belong.
Photographed around 1940, the crisp black and white portrait was probably taken at great expense. For a family just coming out of the Great Depression, it’s a testament to the importance they placed on family solidarity. By all accounts, the McGraths of Galewood didn’t have it easy. Money was scarce, and there were no social safety nets to rely on. In the darkest days, when Ma, my grandma, was sick, Great Grandma Lilly, Ma’s mother, came to live with them. She was a tough old bird who didn’t suffer fools easily, and was exactly what was needed to keep the whole operation running. My Dad quietly said out of nowhere one day, “It got so bad we only had one small bag of rice left to eat in the house. I don’t know how Ma did it with all us kids at home. If Grandma Lilly hadn’t come, I don’t know what we’d have done.” That’s also when he started delivering the Grand Rapids Herald, the local daily. Up at four in the morning, every day. Most of his profits going to help out his mother. He was twelve. The older boys by now in the service, sending their monthly paychecks home to keep the rest of the family afloat. The younger ones finding odd jobs where they could; setting pins at the bowling alley, or scrounging for scrap metal and selling it. They counted on each other. It was all they had.
Then came December, 1941, and the war that changed so much for so many. The clan from Galewood was no exception. By the time it was over, all six brothers would be in either the Army, Navy, or Marines. Six blue stars in the window at any given time. All survived. Each came home and went on to lead productive and important lives. All married, had children, worked hard at their various occupations. Teachers, farmer, factory worker, barber, lineman, office worker. They also continued supporting their mother; who, in addition to having survived so many hardships during the Depression and war years, continued her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis and, later, cancer. Every week, without fail, a portion of the paycheck went to Ma. The web of love and care surrounded this gentle, gracious, soft spoken woman. They honored her devotion to them in spite of the grinding adversity she endured.
Not everything was gloomy, in spite of there being an Angela’s Ashes quality to
the family’s life. Just like kids in every time and place, there had to be fun even during the hard times. With a group of rambunctious boys left to create their own fun, the possibilities were endless. Playmates like “Boob”, the proud owner of a coal eating dog; sword-wielding Vic; PeeWee and Nellie added to the joie de vivre. My aunt, the lone girl in the group said, “there was never a dull moment in the house. The boys were forever in some sort of mischief, but, to their credit, no one ended up in jail.” Good thing. Grandma didn’t need any jailbirds thrown in the mix. Kick the Can, homemade bow and arrows and slingshots, scrounging up old tires to be used as the ten-cent admission to The Peanut – the local movie theater. The tires were burned in the boiler in the back to heat the place. Ice skating, sledding, hoop races, cur-dogs for pets, firecrackers, rusty wagons, mumblety-peg, campouts.
Then there was the music. A couple of the boys managed to snag a piano someplace; my Dad, and his brother, Burr. Self-taught, both could play most things by ear. Years later, whenever the clan gathered to celebrate one holiday or another, invariably the music would start. Mostly the old songs. The aunts and uncles gathered around the piano and a grand sing along would ensue. Sometimes Dad brought his battered Gretsch and accompanied Burr. As kids, we’d look at each other, and the eye rolling and giggles would commence when the first chords tinkled from the upright. As time went on, however, those songs took on new meaning. I’d catch myself humming or singing the chorus to Peg O’ My Heart, or a few verses of Shine On, Harvest Moon at random moments. I suspect I‘d become more aware of the lasting impact those times around the piano had on me. With time and age, a bit of wisdom comes, I suppose. Those moments shared listening to the harmonizing and laughter are now cherished. I‘d wager my cousins agree.
I have a copy of that portrait. Seven young people frozen in time smiling out at us, unaware of the things they would face in time yet to come. The lingering effects of The Depression and the war years would forever impact the way they saw the world. There would be many good years where their families were healthy, happy, and well, too. But, sickness, divorce, and the death of loved ones, would also be part of it.
This family had come through so much together, and they’d made it. They had become resilient, courageous, hard-working, self-sacrificing, persistent, and honorable people along the way. And, through all of it, they managed to keep that crazy, dark Irish sense of humor alive. In the end, they’d left us a magnificent legacy.
They are my Greatest Generation.
Here we are citizens.
If you have already done your electoral duty our hat is off to you for your participation in the democratic process.
If not we hope to see you at the polling places tomorrow as the quadrennial chaos known as a presidential campaign comes to fruition and votes not hitherto completed are cast for the candidates.
Polls open at 7am and close up shop at 8pm.
It’s likely to be the biggest turnout percentage-wise since the ‘08 (1908 not 2008) contest between William Howard Taft and William Jennings Bryan, the last time the % of voters eclipsed 65%. Neither of the Bills running was an incumbent since Prez-at-the-time Roosevelt (Teddy, not Franklin) decided not to run, though he changed his mind 4 years later and ran 3rd party against his chosen successor Taft.
But enough about history. Whether it means taking time out of your busy day or hauling your retired behind off the couch to put on real pants, make your voice heard by showing up at the polls tomorrow.
And when you get there, be nice.
For one, being nice matters. Beyond that the people working the polls are doing the best they can in performing these important public service tasks so don’t be THAT guy (or gal) who loves to make things difficult.
From Newaygo County Clerk Jason VanderStelt:
“Please be kind and courteous to our clerks and election inspectors and understand that our local clerks and election inspectors did not MAKE the laws regarding elections, they are simply required to enforce the laws.”
Well put, sir.
And now here’s a few of our favorite election quotes to ponder as we ready for a rousing round of Results Night.
"Every election is determined by the people who show up.”- Larry Sabato
“During an election campaign the air is full of speeches and vice versa.”-Henry Adams
“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.” Gore Vidal
“In a democracy, someone who fails to get elected to office can always console himself with the thought that there was something not quite fair about it.”- Thucydides
“In an election year the American Politics Industry fills the airways with the most virulent, scurrilous wall to wall character assasination of every political practitioner in the country then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.”- Charles Krauthammer
If we got one tenth of what we were promised to us in acceptance speeches there wouldn’t be an inducement to go to heaven.”- Will Rogers
“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”- Abraham Lincoln
“When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win.” Nancy Isenberg
“General Motors, General Mills, General Foods, general ignorance, general apathy, and general cussedness elect presidents and Congressmen and maintain them in power.”-Herbert Shelton
“Talk is cheap, voting is free; take it to the polls...”- Nanette Avery
“The only people truly bound by campaign promises are the voters who believe them.”-Christopher Hitchens
My favorite part of election season is the end.” C.A.A. Savastano
"Ships, like people, are easy to steer once you identify what moves them.”-Joseph Haeggquist
Anyone tired of the TV ads aimed at convincing us that the candidate paying for the ad is wonderful and their opponent is the scourge of humankind as we know it?
Inane? Yes. Ridiculously Biased? Of course? Filled with lies? Absolutely. Bordering on batshit lunacy? You bet.
But the most damning thing about these exercises in absurdity?
Oh, and those colorful oversized postcards that conduct a daily invasion into the mailbox at N3 World Headquarters? The ones that never make it inside, instead becoming unceremoniously deposited into our recycle bin without even a reading?
Yep. Those must work as well.
This is a lot of money we’re talking about and the people who run the business end of these races, while perhaps a bit soulless, likely know their stuff and their stuff says these get enough desired results to make them worth the price..
How incredibly disappointing.
We had the pizza from Hit The Road Joe during their oven-opening night Saturday.
Get the New York White Garlic. It is truly to die for and has cemented its spot as the go to pie of N3WH.
We would have included a photo but hunger, impatience, and a severe lack of forethought made this unrealistic.
We hear organizers pulled the plug on Fremont’s Jingle Mingle and most other Christmas Craft shows have taken the year off as well.
A tough decision to be sure but with cases increasing this is the only good decision to make.
While social media may be filled with theories, speculations, opinions and anecdotal aberrations pointing to the pandemic being a farce we choose to believe the true experts involved in the fields of science and medicine.
And bypass the viewpoints proffered by the well meaning graduates of the University of Facebook with their certificates in Gobbledygook, Claptrap and Hogwash.
With all the hoopla surrounding the Presidential election no place will your vote have more influence in this community than those that will decide the makeup of our local school boards. Of all our community assets, our children are the most vital. The folks wishing to serve on these boards will be influential in establishing the direction of the places where the education of our children will occur.We need leadership on the school boards that will recognize the importance of providing the resources to do so and the acumen to face the upcoming challenges the pandemic presents
In Fremont the school’s facebook page introduces the candidates. The WC candidates are running unopposed as are those at Big Jackson. Hesperia has 4 candidates for 3 full terms and 2 for a partial term.
In Grant and Newaygo the candidates responded to questions in our pages.
Here are the links to their replies:
-Ken De Laat
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