Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .
We are all wondering if we will ever know the stories behind the stories concerning the worldwide nightmare through which we are currently living.
Where did the coronavirus originate? Was it really in a lab? Was there really a “Patient Zero?” Do they really eat bats in China? Who knew what and when? Who covered up what and for how long? And why did people buy up all the toilet paper at the outbreak of this pandemic?
My guess is that the answer to these and many other questions concerning the Great War of 2020 will be lost in the haze of history and, sadly, people will draw their own conclusions and cling to those beliefs based primarily on which side of the political aisle they tend to reside.
Remember, we are the nation whose government wants us to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Having long been a student of history, I wonder what the history books will say about the year 2020 when say my grandsons are in the 11th grade. I taught for years from Alan Brinkley’s “Unfinished Nation,” and this is what Brinkley wrote about the Spanish flu of 1918.
Oops. He wrote nothing, which is quite amazing, in retrospect. In 1918 and 1919 the H1N1 virus infected a third of the world’s population and killed 50 million people, including 675,000 in the United States, and didn’t even get a mention in an AP U.S. history book.
I heard about the Spanish flu all my life, though. My daddy had it. He used to tell the story every year around Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) in November. He was 7 years old, having been born in 1911, when the Armistice ending World War I was signed on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
He and his family were living in LaGrange, where his father was section foreman for the Georgia railroad. My daddy was in bed with the flu, delirious. He was self-aware enough to know that many people in his town, including a couple of his small friends, had already succumbed to the illness. At the appointed time of the Armistice, all the church bells in LaGrange began to peal in celebration. My daddy heard the bells and thought that they were the bells of heaven, tolling for him. When his mother came into his sick room to give him the news that the war was over, he thought she was an angel.
That’s a heavy memory for a 7-year-old.
More Americans were killed by the Spanish flu than the War Between the States, and it didn’t get a mention in my history text. Of course, World War I was raging at the same time and that took up a couple of chapters.
I’m betting the COVID 19 crisis gets a mention in upcoming text books, but in the long run, I doubt that the number of deaths in the U.S. will get much of the ink.
What I think will get most of the attention is the fact that we, the people, were so willing to turn to the government for solutions in every phase of the crisis. I believe historians will be intrigued by the fact that, within a mere month, we went from having the most robust economy, perhaps in the whole long history of the world, to the brink of financial ruin. I believe historians will write about how readily we gave up our first amendment rights and how by the time .00007 percent of the population had succumbed we had closed down businesses, schools and churches and had abandoned century-old traditions, like baseball season and other sporting events.
Don’t hear something I am not saying. I am not saying we have been wrong to do this. If I had the answers, I would be in charge. But I am saying that if we continue to do it indefinitely, this chapter in our history books will be much sadder than it might have been and will tell the story of a once great nation brought to her knees.
But I am an optimist. I believe in our nation and in her people and in her leader. To paraphrase one of the great leaders in world history, I believe that when my grandsons read about the Crisis of 2020, they will read that, in the end, this was our finest hour.
And there are a few prayers thrown in with those beliefs.