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.
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