Have confidence that we can beat this, too

I’ve been frightened many times in my life — especially in my younger days. But, I’ve only been truly scared just twice in my life.

The first time I was so very scared was over three quarters of a century ago (I’m 84 now) when World War II began for our nation.

I was so scared of what seemed to be my certain death that I crouched in the tiny space between our piano and the wall beside it. (I thought if I couldn’t be found, I wouldn’t get hurt.) At night, I would sob loudly under the covers whenever a plane would fly over until Mom would come into my room to lie to me that our brick home would withstand any bomb that an enemy plane would drop.

That seemed to work — a little.

The second time in my life of being truly scared is now. I’m scared of COVID-19. As of this writing (May 22), there have been 95,502 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. and 333,734 deaths worldwide.

In the 3 2/3 years of World War II, the U.S. had 293,131 combat deaths. That figures out to be 6,855 deaths per month during the 43-plus months of our involvement in that world war.

At the rate we’re going, with March, April and two thirds of May (and I’ll also include all of February), that figures to be 3.6 months into 95,502, or 26,528 U.S. deaths per month, or almost 3.9 times the number of combat deaths in World War II.

Please don’t take me to task about all these figures — I was an English major!

So what did I do as a little kid to assuage my fears and help with the war effort to help save lives during World War II? I bought U.S. War Bond Savings Stamps at school for 10 cents each, and pulled my wagon through the neighborhoods with my friend Tom Rose to ask for and receive scrap metal, bundles of newspapers and scrap rubber. All of us even saved empty tooth paste tubes and flattened tin cans.

There were dozens of other things that the civilian population did to help with the war effort and, I believe, morale was probably the highest that this nation has ever had. We were going to win — and we did!

Now, three quarters of a century later, I must deal with that worldwide coronavirus pandemic. The common denominator between World War II and now seems to be the same — “We’re all in this together.”

To assuage my present-day fears, I’ve received hot meals from friends, wonderful encouraging phone calls, ways to have virtual meetings, thoughtful notes, virtual church services and help in finding masks, hand sanitizers, isopropyl alcohol and even toilet paper. It’s tough to reciprocate these kind gestures, but I’m trying.

Even though I find that wearing a mask to be a little uncomfortable, I take permanent marker pens and draw a smiling mouth on the front, to help my disposition, and maybe get a little smile from those I encounter.

In spite of being scared, I just know that the U.S. and other countries can gather up all their might to defeat this unseeable thing called the coronavirus.

Soon, I hope, we can once again say, “We were going to win — and we did!”

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday .com.


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