World War II’s lesson

World War II taught Americans about patience. United in a common experience we could not control, we Americans, of all ages and social status, learned patience and sacrifice. We had no choice.

We were issued ration points that we were required to turn in along with our cash to buy goods in high demand: gasoline, sugar, butter, milk. We guarded our supply of these points, represented by dime-sized cardboard coins.

We bought war bonds and stamps to help the government finance the war effort. We collected scrap metal to be converted into weapons and machinery.

Americans willingly united in this “War Effort,” the battle against a common enemy. Husbands, sons, brothers, neighbors left home to fight. Too many did not return. Americans sacrificed, prayed, and waited. We did not choose this, but we willingly sacrificed, united in our patience. We knew that this war would end someday.

I was seven when bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. We celebrated V-J Day, signaling the end of the war, on August 15, 1945, six days shy of my 11th birthday. The events of these four years in my life live forever in my memory. I won’t ever forget the praying, the shared grief of lost loved ones, the multiple sacrifices everyone shared, and especially the patience that was required and eventually rewarded.

One might reasonably argue that the Covid-19 pandemic is different from the experiences shared by Americans 80 years ago during World War II. But these events share crucial similarities that instruct us, if we will heed the message: Our spoiled-child impatience is prolonging the battle.

For all of us.

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