By Joe Rector

I’ve always been amazed at this country we call home. Over the years, this land and its people have bowed their backs in the face of adversity and prevailed.

It found roots in a revolution to separate from a monarchy that treated people as second-class citizens. Men and women gave their lives to fight against invading armies until the price that England paid was too high. A group of loyal patriots wrote a constitution by which a fledgling nation could direct itself and retain its freedom.

The War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War sent our soldiers back into battle to war, but both paled in the comparison to the Civil War. Slavery was one primary cause for this one, but Lincoln’s concern was maintaining the Union. The secession of the southern states and formation of their own country led to a years-long blood bath. Much sadder than any other war the country has fought, the Civil War pitted friends against friends and family members against family members. On the back of that were the lives of slaves who had been abused, belittled, killed. Knowing that humans were treated like livestock is something hard to understand. The final count of lives lost was 623,026.

The years after the Civil War saw the southern states destroyed. Carpetbaggers arrived with no concern for rebuilding the states or helping those who had been freed. Still, Americans worked together to eventually make things better. We survived as a whole country.

World War I took our young men to Europe to fight with allies to defeat a German country intent on dominating the area. The murder of 128 Americans on the Lusitania by a German submarine fueled America’s entry to the war. Two million U.S. soldiers fought, and 53,402 of them died in combat. Another 63,114 died due to the flu epidemic of 1918.

The world again found itself at war as Hitler maniacally worked to become the ruler of the world and as Hirohito pushed a nationalistic, militaristic Japan into conflict. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, killed 2403 servicemen and thrust this country into the conflict. The belief in American values and the determination to remain a free and independent country led thousands to enlist in branches of service. By the end of the war 405,399 soldiers had sacrificed their lives for the country and citizens.

What I wonder now is if we who are citizens of the U.S. today have the same courage to fight and sacrifice for this country. Covid-19 on Thursday, December 3 took the lives of nearly 2900, a larger number than Pearl Harbor and just short of the 9/11 attack (2977). The death toll stands right now at 276,513, and more than 14 million cases have been reported. Predictions are that as many as 500,000+ deaths will be recorded by April.

The CDC says 60,000 lives can be saved if Americans simply wear masks. President-elect Biden will ask everyone to wear a mask during his first 100 days in office. I wonder if Americans have what it takes to take on this killer and defeat it. Yes, sacrifices must be made, but they are nothing compared to what others have given. We must stay home, wear masks in public, and wash hands frequently. No one is being asked to enlist or be drafted and to travel to a different country to shoot at enemies. I’d say our service is rather easy.

I’ve heard enough belly-aching to last a lifetime about how unfair and difficult it is to do these things. Look at it a different way. We are fighting a war that has already killed too many of our countrymen. The time is to fight for our country and its survival. Are we up to the challenge? Only time and actions will tell.