It’s been nearly 81 years since that day embedded in my mind, when I saw my mother cry for the first time. It was on a dreary late Sunday afternoon in December when our phone rang. She listened for a few moments and then hung up, bursting into tears. What was it, a death of a friend or a kinfolk? No, it was the news that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor.

On that day, I had no idea what it all meant. I had only been in the first grade for a few months, eagerly learning how to read and write. On that day, described by President Franklin Roosevelt as a day that will live in “infamy,” I had no idea what that meant, but soon understood why my mother burst into tears.

She had grown up during World War I, and knew what war could do, and how our lives would change dramatically, at the drop of a bomb. What was to come during the next four years were the deaths of approximately 335, 000 Americans, including three of our close relatives.

We were warned there would be wars and rumors of wars. Since WWII, we’ve fought several wars. And there seems to be a rumor of war breaking out somewhere in the world every day.

Soon after WWII, every able-bodied male had to serve in the military. I served two years in the Navy in 1956-58. Fortunately, I was never in harms way, but came close a few times. What I remember is the anxiety in anticipation of possibly being blown up. And I remember my mother crying again the day I told her, “Good-bye, see you later when I get back home again.”

Now that it’s about 70 years later, war is not a primary concern; being shut down is. An older person, who is vulnerable to about everything that has not even been discovered yet, is advised to sit comfortably in his air-tight home and think on these things. If you’re somewhat senile, good luck with that.

The word “plague” and its derivatives are mentioned over 100 times in the Bible. Like the word “war,” the biblical message is to beware and prepare, which is also good common sense. But we weren’t prepared to isolate ourselves from other humans. To love thy neighbors, tell them to get lost until word comes down from on high that it’s OK to reach out and touch someone.

So, I remain shut in, sitting and thinking on these things. But the uncertainty of it all is beyond my comprehension. Existence in solitude is a whole new experience for most of us. Do I continue contemplating everything or turn on the TV to get coronavirus updates from the experts?

In this situation, there are two types of experts — political and medical. Take your pick. The medical experts say the coronavirus crises must run its course and it will require months more of distancing from loved ones. If you are impatient, get over it.

President Trump and his heretofore cooperative congressional experts across a wide aisle, all see a need for economic stimulus. One of the major unknowns during this shutdown is the effect it has on the world economy. It’s scary watching the Dow drip, drip our savings away.

President Trump proposes $1 trillion to aide those in dire need. It includes possibly writing a check for $1,000 to each American who needs it. How it all would be paid back is a future unknown. We’ll see how it turns out. But it’s an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to join hands, after thoroughly sanitizing them.

We must believe we’ll get through this. There’s what’s known as the “American way,” as crazy as it can be at times. Where there’s a will, an American will. I remember a miracle in the 1960s.

In 1952, 58,000 new cases of infantile paralysis, also known as polio, were reported in the U.S. It was a crippling disease that primarily affected children. Back then, families with children lived in fear of exposing them to someone having that disease.

In the meantime, Jonas Salk, head of the research laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, began working on a vaccine to prevent polio. No way, but Salk did.

It was a happy, happy day when my wife and I took our four young children to get their shots. And when we walked away, there were a few tears welling up in our eyes.

There will come a time when we become close together again.

Contact Terry Cummins at

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