We are witnessing an unprecedented collision of critical conditions occurring in our country simultaneously. Fatalities due to the Coronavirus has topped over 135,000, protests due to racial injustice and police brutality have caused great disruption in many cities along with unfortunately a substantial amount of damage to buildings both private business and public facilities. Lots of statues of figures of Confederate leaders and others who are seen as oppressors have been torn down and removed. Recent examples include the statute of Thomas Jefferson at Jefferson High School in Portland, Or and the statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, MD which was toppled and dumped in the Inner Harbor.
There has been understandable rage by people who are feeling tremendous hurt and devaluation by conditions framed by systemic racism and those in power who have ignored the pernicious threats that this pandemic has posed to the health and welfare of everyone.
I wonder, in this time, in which we are considering who is heroic. Does former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia deserve a statue ?
I wonder again how will we memorialize all of those citizens who have died from this virus and all of those who have provided care for grew sick and suffering who have also perished.
Many years Ago, I visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. I went to find the name of my cousin Richard Gullixson Jr. who died in Vietnam in November 1968 at the age of 20. The visit to the wall was a humbling and moving experience for me.
Over the decades we have seen many consequences of this war not only in terms of the deaths, but the lives that were changed for the surviving family members of those who died, those who were left with permanent [i]medical conditions, and serious challenging on-going mental health conditions. The Vietnam war claimed at least 58,220 US military service members ( www.Archives. Gov)
What we have seen so far from the fatalities associated with the Coronavirus is more than two Vietnams. How the current people in power can make their response to the pandemic a success is both delusional and disingenuous. What is preventing us from learning from the success of other countries i.e. Canada and South Korea ? The hubris and disregard of our leaders is causing greater suffering and more loss of life.
Memorial in the United States and elsewhere have commemorated those who lost their lives in World War II and also in Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. One of the most moving monuments I have seen is the simple corner memorial in the Art District neighborhood of Philadelphia near the Philadelphia Art Museum. This simple display of a plaque and two benches remembers those from this neighborhood who died in the Vietnam War.
How will we memorialize those who have died due to the Coronavirus, not only in the United States but in the entire world ? This is a sobering moment, one that reminds us painfully about our own mortality and about how fragile our human existence can be.
Can we learn to aggressively commit our resources to preserving public health in our nation and in our world ?
Can we become less selfish and think about the needs and welfare of others not only in our own community but also with the entire planet ?
We need to remember those who have died from this plague. We need to remember those who fought to save lives during this [plague and who also perished.
We need to do better.
May it be so.