I write this on the eve of the one-year anniversary of our first presumptive case in Greene County on March 12, 2020. I’m sure most of you feel like I do … in some instances, that seems like another lifetime ago. In other ways, though, has it been a year already? It certainly will be a year that will define generations, and will have history books written about the COVID-19 Pandemic, and all that has surrounded it for the past 365 days.
And what will they write about us? When our children’s children and their children read the textbooks about this time, what will they say? We know the beginning: A virus brought our country and our world to its knees. How we had riots, division and an attack on our nation’s Capitol. Our story is not yet told, and the repercussions of the pandemic will linger for months and years. So will the decisions we made last year, today and tomorrow.
We can imagine the larger stories that will be written. How many died, who was elected and who wasn’t, and how many businesses closed. So often, though, the smaller stories are lost —the human ones. How an 11-year-old found both parents dead in their basement, alone, from a virus so many still deny exists. How thousands upon thousands of health-care workers risk their lives daily … many seven days a week … to save others, while being mocked by many claiming a hoax. Or the innumerable random acts of kindness that have happened neighbor-to-neighbor, friend-to-friend, and most especially, stranger-to-stranger. In our work, we will continue to try and capture these meaningful small stories emanating so often from our own generous donors, and tireless nonprofit leaders who are trying to bring help in a sea of helplessness.
This is but one chapter in the book of America. It follows other threats that pitted brother against brother, an economy that imploded, and twin towers that exploded. We not only endured those challenges, we prevailed as a nation. What, then, will be written about us?
Edward R. Murrow said: “Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.” This past year has been the most demanding Americans have seen in generations. Our history is still being written … the good and the bad, and only the passing of time and the wisdom that lens provides will tell the future who did right by it, and who failed.
To paraphrase a question that came from another time: “Grandpa, what did you do in the pandemic?” I hope that we can answer we were kind, and we cared.
Brian Fogle is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.