Memorial Day is here, and it gives us the opportunity to spend some solemn moments in memory of those who have served in the military and who are no longer with us. My father served for many years in the Navy (and spent much of his career supporting military needs as a civilian), my husband’s father also served in the Navy and was a WWII veteran. We are left to hold their memory dear as well as to honor others who have served.
I’ve learned to appreciate the opportunity to recognize this day with others, and have many times attended ceremonies honoring our Veterans. Today, in addition to honoring Veterans, I’m also grieving the loss of so many others who have died as a result of the coronavirus, some who are heroes who contracted the disease in the service of others but also those, including too many of our elders, whose bodies were simply unable to defend themselves against the effects of this deadly pathogen.
The number of deaths we’ve seen this spring are staggering. There are two national traumas that I think of with respect to mass deaths – Vietnam and the Sept 11, 2001 attacks. In the 9-11 attacks, we lost about 3,000 lives in a single day. In contrast, at this writing we’ve lost over 90,000 American lives over the last 3 months, almost twice as much as U.S. service members lost in the Vietnam War (about 58,000). This is like the 9-11 event every day for three months.
Many are also suffering economic pain as we, as a society, try to slow the spread of this disease and to find effective treatments and ways that protect us from future harm. The current need to self-quarantine for this pandemic is prompting me to to wonder what would a world look like that holds sacred the lives of the least among us. And to ponder what I should be doing that brings us closer to that world.
I don’t have a grand announcement to share with you, only the message that this moment is a test of who we are. And instead of going back to the way things were, my hope is that we can move forward to a kinder world that sees in every moment a chance to embrace the sacred.