“A three-ply cord cannot be easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
He was in his twenties. His job was frightening. Death was possible. On his 37th mission flying out of a base in Italy, his plane was hit – multiple times. Only he and two other crew members parachuted out of the plane. On the ground, he was confronted by a farmer wielding a pitchfork before a German officer stepped in and stopped the killing. World War II. On that day, Alfred John Hackbarth, my dad, almost lost his life twice… within minutes. In one single instance, he lost his closest friends. He became a POW and remained in prison until the War ended.
My dad was a hero. He put his life on the line. Although his service represented some of the best work of his life, he rarely talked about that War. I never heard him brag one single time about what he and others did for our country – for the world. Not once. He did what his country asked him to do. He sought no credit and did not complain about the sacrifice. He willingly did what was necessary.
While my dad flew missions out of Italy, others were busy at home in the United States. For our country, it was all hands-on deck. Sacrifices were made by everyone. We were one team. Families planted ‘victory gardens’ so that food was available for soldiers. Communities conducted drives for rubber and scrap metal, recycled and used in armaments. The United States Office of War created posters to encourage a team effort: “Do with less, so they’ll have enough.”
Teamwork was the difference.
We stand on hallowed ground. Throughout our history, our citizens have stood up to the greatest challenges and prevailed. We have done it together, as one unified team. Whether it was World War II, the Great Depression, or the pandemic flu of 1918. The original fight for independence set the tone for a country that will not be denied victory. Our roots are deep and strong.
We are tested now by the Coronavirus crisis, the invisible war. Our country requests our help. Sacrifices are crucial. The best practices of social distancing, extreme hygiene exercises and constant cleaning of touched surfaces are small sacrifices. Many financial hardships are certain. Vulnerable people will need to isolate, staying at home. For some of our front-line workers, the risks will be greater—just like my dad experienced – some will lose their lives. All of us will be impacted. We need the sacrifice of all citizens in various magnitudes of adjustment. We need everyone’s commitment.
We are capable of this effort. We can do this. We are America. As a team, we will do what we need to do to win. Why? Because this is what defines us. It is more than just being in our wheelhouse. It is who we are.
During the toughest times in the history of our country is when we have been our best. We will be our best this time, too. We will not give up. We will not give in. Teamwork will be the difference. Together we win. “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” Ryunosuke Satoro
Be part of the solution.
- Follow the national CDC guidelines and any local government directives.
- Be responsible for protecting yourself from catching the virus. The hospital bed that you do not occupy makes it available for someone in need. That bed might be for one of the frontline medical workers who contract this virus because of their labor in caring for the critically ill. By your not catching the disease, means you will not pass it on.
- Help the most vulnerable. This includes older Americans and those with underlying health issues. Help them to remain isolated. If possible, perform tasks for them so that they can stay at home. Shopping and drugstore trips. Stay in touch by phone.
- Perform at least one random act of kindness. One act will encourage other random acts of kindness. Watch out for neighbors.
- If you have financial wellbeing, help those who are suffering due to lost jobs or the inability to provide for themselves.
- Say “thank you” to all frontline workers who incur risks in doing their jobs on our behalf. We need to keep encouraging them.
- Be the example. Leadership is not limited to those with authority. Everyone can be a leader. Do the right thing.
- Pray without ceasing.
At this moment, I remember my dad and his sacrifice. I imagine that he looks down from above and is proud of our team effort.