Editor: The COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout our country bringing death, sickness, and economic destruction. Yet, a large number of Americans will not make the slightest sacrifice to thwart this nationwide attack. What has happened to American Patriotism?
For us Old Timers who remember well the effects of World War II on our domestic life, it is beyond belief to see the few simple public health requirements ignored by so many. Wear a mask, keep your distance, avoid crowds and wash your hands is all that is required. Yet many will not do it.
World War II was raging not on our streets in Leesburg as is the virus, but thousands of miles away in Europe, Africa, and the Far East. Yet the entire nation mobilized and sacrificed to win the war.
I was 8 years old in 1941 and 13 when it ended. My dad was too old to join the fight, but was an air raid warden going out during drills to see that no light could be seen by enemy planes, and would report to higher ups that no lights were observed. In school, we memorized pictures of the enemy war planes so we could report them if seen.
There was food and gas rationing and we had our ration books and carefully selected what we could buy or where we could drive. All the neighborhood families had “victory gardens” to grow our own food so food would be available for the troops and refugees. We collected scrap metal to donate to the war effort and we took our small allowances to buy 10-cent War Bond Stamps which we put in a booklet until we had enough to buy a War Bond. Everyone participated and those who violated the rules were publicly shunned or even arrested if they were “black market” operators.
I remember the deaths. I was at my friend Don Smith’s house, when the Western Union man arrived with the telegram announcing the death of his older brother and how we all cried together. But most of all I remember when Ed Brooks, a nearby neighbor who joined the Army, came to our property where a bunch of us little boys were playing. He was our hero as he sat with us telling us stories of the Army and how he was on leave prior to shipping to Europe to fight. He was drinking beer and smoking a cigarette and my mother came out and asked him to leave the property as his drinking and smoking was a bad influence on us children. He left and two months later was reported dead on the battlefields of Europe. My mother was crying and upset for a long time after knowing her last contact with this neighbor was to banish him from our property just weeks before he died serving to protect our freedom and way of life.
Today, a war equal in its potential death and destruction is being fought, not thousands of miles away, but here in the cities, towns, and villages of the United States of America. Why can’t we mobilize with the same commitment of sharing and love of country that was the response during World War II? What has happened to American Patriotism?
Alfred P. Van Huyck, Round Hill