This year, in addition to honoring our brave soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice, the US flag will be flown at half-mast as a national expression of grief. The brutal trail of Covid as it rips through our country and the world.
5,288 deaths in my state, alone, 98,004 in the US as I write this – probably rolling across the threshold of 100,000, ironically, on Memorial Day.
Why didn’t I round 98,004 to 98,000?
Because every single one of those people matter.
Those 1, 2, 3 and 4 people above 98,000 may seem like a rounding error, but they aren’t. They have names, families and they suffered, just like those 98,000 other souls.
They may not have been old – not that being older should make anyone expendable.
The best of their life may not have been lived. We are all deprived and diminished by the loss of their potential – as are they.
But they all, every single one of them, have something in common.
They were all infected unintentionally and probably unknowingly by someone else. No one, not one person, signed up for this. Most of them had no idea they were putting their life on the line as they went about their business. This isn’t the military – no one enlisted fully aware of what the consequences might be.
It pains me greatly to see wearing a mask in public politicized. Wearing a mask is literally the very least we can do. Taking care of each other by doing such a small thing. Like it or not, we really are all in this together. What goes around, comes around.
Let me explain the very basic foundation of decision making that I’ve utilized for most of my life.
What’s the Worst That Will Happen?
If you wear a mask and you don’t need to:
- You may never know that you didn’t need it
- You might be a little uncomfortable or inconvenienced
- You might be made fun of by someone not wearing a mask
Bottom line – you’re slightly inconvenienced if you wear a mask but you might save someone’s life, including your own.
If you DON’T wear a mask and needed to, the worse is:
- You take the unnecessary chance of getting infected yourself. No, a mask won’t protect you entirely, but it helps.
- You may, unknowingly, infect others who may suffer and die. They then infect others too, keeping the cycle of infection and death in motion and the numbers rising.
- You’ll probably never know that you are responsible for infecting others and possibly killing people because you may never develop symptoms yourself, so you think everything is just fine. If you do develop symptoms, it’s too late to undo the exposures of the days before you manifested symptoms.
Bottom line – you may become infected yourself and/or infect others. You’re not just risking yourself, but everyone you come in contact with. They may suffer and die, or live terribly impaired, and be financially devastated in the process.
And…this outcome is avoidable.
The preventative step of wearing a mask in public, especially in public enclosed spaces, is so simple and entirely painless.
My immediate family, consisting of 7 people, 5 adults and 2 children, is healthy.
But…of those 7…
- One is over 65.
- One young person has a partial lung.
- One child has partial kidneys.
- One has an ongoing undiagnosed health issue.
- One has a high risk housemate who is over 60 and had a heart issue last year.
If your family member exposes you, and you expose me, I will expose my loved ones, intentionally or not. If my family member dies because I inadvertently exposed them, I would never forgive myself.
If they die, that gaping wound would never heal.
Right now, 98,004 families feel that exact same way.
And some unknown person infected every one of them, accidentally.
Honoring the Dead
Memorial Day is supposed to be about honoring our military dead who gave their life defending our country.
Memorial Day was called Decoration Day when I was a kid. It’s a federal holiday for honoring and mourning military personnel who died while on active duty.
Volunteers often place flags on graves of all veterans.
A single red poppy has come to represent the fallen, symbolizing each life lost.
The US has suffered a total of 666,441 combat casualties during wars and conflicts from 1775-2019, with an additional 673,929 dying of other causes.
Wars are expensive in terms of lives lost and soldiers torn from their futures and families.
|Civil War (both sides)||1861-1865||755,000 estimated|
|Revolutionary War||1775-1783||25,000 estimated|
|War of 1812||1812-1815||15,000 estimated|
There is no glory in death and warfare. There is, however, immense gratitude and respect.
Thank you seems like so few and such small words for their sacrifice – but it’s all I have.
Thank you one and all.
On Memorial Day, flags decorate the graves of our brave soldiers buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
My friend, Bob McLaren, who died in March will be buried there soon. I have decorated his grave in my heart and made masks in his honor.
In my family, Decoration Day was expanded to visiting and caring for all graves in the family. A combination of love for those gone, sorrow at the loss of their companionship and celebration of their life and the upcoming summer together – at least for those of us remaining on the green side of the sod.
Grass was manicured from the edges of the stones, stories were told and retold, and fresh-cut flowers lovingly placed.
In some locations, families spread quilts and have picnics in the cemeteries near their loved ones.
Military Family Members Honored
Ironically, few of my family members killed in the service of their country have stones.
James Claxton died in the War of 1812 and was buried in a now-lost hastily-dug grave just outside the stockade of Fort Decatur, Alabama.
My family members who died in the Civil War are buried anonymously; their battlefield resting places lost to time.
Samuel Bolton, my grandmother’s brother, gave his life during WWI. He was brought home and does have a stone. I hope someone is tending his grave today.
All, lives cut short.
The Covid War
Depending on how you look at this, Covid deaths are approaching the total of all WWI combat deaths, or the combination of Vietnam, Korea and either the War of 1812 or the Revolutionary War.
Since February 28th – just under 3 months – 86 days.
That’s 1116 people on average that have died every single day – that we know of – not counting all the people who died but were never tested or diagnosed.
Look at this another way. The average commercial airliner holds between 150-200 passengers.
Using 150 as the average number, that’s 653 airliners that have crashed in 86 days, with everyone on board perishing. That’s 7.6 crashes per day, or one crash every 3 hours and 15 minutes – in the US alone.
Here are today’s planes that crashed and burned with 150 people each on board.
Here are the planes from just this week.
Now, multiply that picture by 12.29 weeks since February 28th. If you printed that out on your printer it would be about 10 pages of solid airplanes.
And we know there are more coming, tomorrow, and the next day. We just don’t know how many more, or for how long.
So, are you willing to get on a plane and fly? That would take a lot of bravery, right?
But it takes no bravery at all to wear a mask. How about we do that instead, especially since masks can help prevent those Covid-planes from crashing!
Would preventing one plane crash be worth it?
Half of the crashes?
How many lives saved would be worth wearing a simple mask?
If we need an extra 100,000 poppies this Memorial Day to honor the lives of each of the Covid victims since February, God forbid, if we don’t wear masks, stay home when we can and take precautions, how many will we need next Memorial Day?
If our ancestors can march off to war and lay their lives down for the rest of us, we can wear masks. People taking care of people.
And if we don’t, whose graves will you be decorating next Memorial Day?