COVID-19 Day 14: Our Pearl Harbor

WWII has become a popular metaphor for our war with COVID-19. All around the country, Americans shelter in their homes, like the air-raid drills of the 1940’s. Our current Administration’s lack of preparedness for this pandemic, echos FDR’s in the months before Pearl Harbor: overconfident, distracted and dismissive of the threat from Asia.

Today, the U.S. surpassed China in the total number of patients infected with COVID-19, and our success in “Flattening the Curve” remains unclear.

In the days after Pearl Harbor, we suffered numerous defeats in the Philippines, Guam, and the South Pacific. We desperately stalled for time while our industries built the weapons we needed to turn the tide. Today, we pray our factories are able to ramp up and provide the tools we need: testing kits, ventilators, latex gloves, and N95 masks.

But unlike the early days of WWII, our victory over COVID-19 is certain. What is not certain, is at what cost? In both blood and treasure, this outbreak could go down as the most costly war in U.S. history.

Perhaps the greatest cost paid will be the loss of the “Greatest Generation.” Of the tens of thousands who have died from COVID-19, most are 80 years and over. Sadly, those who survived the last great global conflict and rebuilt a broken world, will be casualties of this war.

We must make their sacrifice worth it. We must make sure we are never caught flatfooted for the next pandemic. Like Tom Hanks’ dying words in the WWII film Saving Private Ryan, “Earn this.”



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