March 22, 2020 by Tom Aswell (Louisiana Voice)
I just finished reading an interesting book. The title is A Warning, written by “Anonymous.”
[S]he is anonymous because [s]he is a high-level appointee of Donald Trump’s administration and the book consists of 259 pages of harsh criticism of Trump’s character, honesty, courage and leadership.
But that’s not what this is about.
As alarming as the book’s contents are, it was three pages of the epilogue that really drove home the point that we lost something in this country for a while that we may regain from shared hardship.
The epilogue began with the account of Todd Beamer whose final words on united Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, were, “Let’s roll.”
You know the story. Beamer had connected with Lisa Jefferson, a call representative for the in-flight phone company after the plane was hijacked and the pilot, co-pilot and a passenger were killed. As he and a few fellow passengers conspired to storm the cockpit, Beamer told Jefferson if he did not survive to give his wife a message: “Tell her I love her and the boys.” Beamer never learned that his wife was pregnant with a baby girl.
After reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm, they fought with the hijackers and the plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field—less than a half-hour from Washington, D.C.
“Let’s roll” would become a rallying cry for Americans who came together in a show of unity less than a year after the nation had been split by a sharply disputed presidential election that, in the end, had to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the interim between the election and the court’s decision, political discord permeated the very soul of the country.
The image of the second World Trade Center tower coming down in real time is still seared into my brain. Late into the night I sat riveted to my television. I heard Larry King interviewing a New York City firefighter who had lost members of his unit. King asked him why they didn’t leave the building sooner. “That’s not what we do, Mr. King,” the fireman replied softly but firmly. “We go in, not out.”
Now, we are again facing a national crisis, one that has us forced to remain in our homes. We cannot congregate in theaters, restaurants, churches, classrooms, or stadiums. Sporting events—entire seasons in some cases—have been canceled as have festivals like JazzFest and the Louisiana Strawberry Festival. But those things now seem unimportant as our new priority has become prowling stores in quests of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Suddenly, we are gripped with fear for our health care workers who are finding protective masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields in short supply. Ventilators and beds for those suffering from COVID-19 are scarce and those whose jobs are to protect us from this disease suddenly realize with growing horror their limitations to do just that.
Our federal government, reluctant to recognize and/or acknowledge the threat, has been slow to react and Congress seems paralyzed, unable to hammer out an adequate response to help businesses hard hit by closures and employees thrown out of work.
One proposal called for stipends of $1,000 or $2,000 for each member of every family in America. That’s insane. Those who have not lost their jobs or those like myself, who are retired and face no interruption of their income stream, have no need of a government handout. Funny thing is that payout is being proposed by some Republicans who profess to be opposed to socialism.
But I digress. The point I’m trying to make here is it is possible for us to overcome our political differences and pull together in one direction.
There’s a lot to criticize about Donald Trump’s overall approach to this crisis. His incoherent press briefings, punctuated by outbursts at reporters who ask legitimate questions, is but one complaint that I have. But that’s an issue for another day.
And unlike Rep. Clay Higgins, we cannot afford to grandstand on the false issue of freedom of assembly or freedom of worship when Gov. Edwards calls for restricting the size of gatherings to 50 or fewer—later revised to 10 or fewer—for our own well-being.