Greetings everyone! No doubt about it, this is a different and unprecedented time for absolutely everyone on Earth. A completely new experience and we are ploughing new ground. No matter who you are, where you were when this started, and where you are now…we are in it together. This is a marathon and not a sprint, and we need to pace ourselves. If you see someone struggling, slow down and help them find their pace. The difference in this particular marathon is that we win by crossing the finish line together. There is no doubt that to achieve the best possible outcome, we are stronger together than we are apart.
Todd and Fiona enjoy a beautiful sunrise at a protector’s class in South Texas, January 2020
My experiences and Joan’s are limited to disasters on a single continent. Our first was the Great Flood of 1993 that repeated to a lesser extent in 1995. As a lieutenant on the fire department I led a daily average of 1,582 volunteers just in the historic little town of Rocheport for two weeks working 12+ hour shifts. I was even given my own police force of 24 Army MP’s from a unit headquartered in Kansas City. (The only real police action that was necessary was to stop tourists with cameras who got on the busses in Columbia that were intended for relief workers coming out to help.) Since the Missouri River runs the entire western boundary of Boone County, our community was seriously challenged like many across the country to the north and south of us. The water got so high that it was striking the bridge abutments and splashing onto the driving lane of westbound I-70. Look and reference that the next time you cross the bridge! I look back at the incredible resources and logistics we put in place to stabilize and recover from that disaster, but it was all driven by incredible people and many leaders who were up to the task. Thousands of incredible people who were willing to do what it took while remaining connected to humanity and the needs of other humans. We craved personal contact if for no other reason than to talk it out, have a beer, and look into each other’s’ eyes just to know we were OK. We were able to fulfill that craving as we took care of each other.
Fast forward not quite ten years to September 11, 2001. Each of us remembers where we were at 0745 CST, a beautiful, clear Tuesday morning in Columbia, MO as well as in NYC. American Airlines flight 11 was crashed into the north tower, and Joan called to me saying, “Todd, you need to come here and see this.” Eighteen minutes later, at 0803 CST, while watching the television and holding my 3-year old daughter Farley, United Airlines flight 175 was crashed into the south tower. Gasping at seeing this happen, I said to Joan, “The world as we know it just changed forever.” At 0837 American Airlines flight 77 was crashed into the front of the Pentagon. At 0907 the fourth and final aircraft, United Airlines flight 93, was crashed into a field in Somerset County Pennsylvania after passengers and crew members mounted an offensive to retake the plane. One of those passengers, Todd Beamer, immortalized their actions with his words, “Let’s roll!” What I remember most about the aftermath of this unbelievable incident that cost thousands of lives and, to this day, continues to claim the lives of responders with respiratory illnesses and cancers, is how quiet our culture became. I remember less “noise” and arguing in the form of inconsequential BS and trivial things, and more of a focus on human kindness and simply being close to other people as we lifted each other up. I witnessed a resurgence of courtesy, simple manners, and a consideration for others. Once again we craved personal contact and we fulfilled that craving in taking care of each other.
Today we are fighting a war of a different kind and against a new enemy. There is not a vaccine yet, but there will be, and probably more quickly than many of us expect. We have seen this kind of enemy before just not to this extent. We have intelligence and information for how to conduct the battle, but it is important to listen to our leaders and experts and not go crazy with MISinformation ffrom the internet, Facebook, etc. (Example: The hair dryer and spray bottle video for how to kill the virus by pointing the nozzle at your face and inhaling hot air.) This battle may require different tactics and techniques, but each of us must assess and focus inwardly on our personal, family, and community responsibilities. We must assess and understand what we need to do as well as what we need NOT to do. One of the unique difficulties in this battle requires that we need to physically distance ourselves from each other. Travel restrictions, quarantines and isolations are difficult and add an emotional and psychological component to this war. Employment suspensions and losses increase the burden. My family feels this pain too. Folks, the world as we know it has changed forever…again! That does not mean that it is “over” and I sure hope you don’t opt-out.
On December 7th, 1941 Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said after the attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” On December 8th, America said, “Let’s roll!” This resolve may seem harder to draw upon since this current enemy does not have a face or geographic center. But our country, and the world, continues to rally. As we did in WWII, industry has pivoted in response. Automobile manufacturers are making ventilators, distilleries are making hand sanitizer, textile plants are making filter masks. Industry, small business, and individuals are doing kind and amazing things in consideration of others. Sure, there are some dumbasses who have tried to profiteer their 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, but that is the exception.
My parents and Joan’s parents have gone Home. I am confident that my mom, dad, and brother Tim, are saving me a seat in Heaven’s Ultimate Irish Pub where I hope to join them when I finally atone to my Maker. Both Joan’s and my father were Army veterans. My father Patrick Burke was a sergeant in the First Armored Division (Old Ironsides) during The Korean War and Joan’s father Chet Williamson was an infantryman who liberated the concentration camps in World War II. They played a part in fighting an enemy during war on a global scale. We can learn much from looking back and emulating their attitudes, behaviors, and personal disciplines as examples to follow. Most of us have never stood in a breadline, traded ration coupons, conserved or recycled materials because our lives and the lives of our countrymen depended upon it. We have not done without because of a supply problem. And our Governor said recently during a daily briefing, the bare shelves in the stores is not a supply problem, it is a demand issue! No matter how much “stuff” people have squirreled away in their bunkers, we have to learn a different way of doing things and realize we may not be able to run to the store and get everything we want (not necessarily need) at a moment’s notice. America produces food (grain and meat) and oil. That’s mostly it. Right now, we can’t even put cars together unless the parts come from out of the country. Everything else is made in China; we’ve known this for years. (A bit of hyperbole, but not by much.) Our collective values and beliefs are much different than 50 years ago when we were more together in mind and spirit. Our country today is divided in half and millions seem to entertain the possibility that it’s time to bring socialism or communism into our way of life or even let it lead the country. And our government is full of haters, not leaders. OK, as Dale says, <Soapbox Off>
Listen, we can do this! When it comes to crisis of any kind, Americans have stood up, stepped up, and pushed forward since the inception of our country. (Insert your favorite scene from your favorite action or disaster movie here.) But this is not a movie, it’s the real deal. Don’t despair because you were not a “prepper” yesterday ’cause we’re all preppers now. And this is not the time to watch The Andromeda Strain, The Road, Children of Men, or I Am Legend as a reference for what to do, how to live, or what will happen tomorrow. I can recommend Disney+ as an excellent value and there is a TON of good stuff there. Sharpening your tactical skillset is always a good idea and hey, I know a guy! May I suggest a couple of video links to review because…well, they apply here and they make ME smile:
“Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? NO! and it ain’t over yet!”
Click here to enjoy Animal House clip.
We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi, we’re not Spartans, we’re Americans. Do you know that that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world! We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog…we’re mutts! But there’s no animal who’s more faithful, more loyal, more loveable than the mutt…We’re mutants, there’s something wrong with us, something very, very WRONG with us…we’re soldiers, but we’re American soldiers. We’ve been kickin’ ass for 200 years…all we have to do is be the great American fighting soldier that is inside each one of us. Now…do what I do and say what I say…and make me proud!
Click here to enjoy clip from Stripes.
Friends, the world as we know it has once again changed forever but that in and of itself is not a bad thing. What it will look like on the other side will depend upon our mindset and beliefs, how we take care of ourselves, and how we treat others. It’s never about the incident, it’s about how we respond to the incident. I hope we will learn and respond well from the many things we have identified as problems. And make up your mind to lead, follow, or get out of the way!
So, if it is lemons we have been served, what do you say about some Lemonade. I’ve got a bag of sugar and I will share! Hey guys…let’s roll!