My wife and I were watching the evening news with a good friend who is a Vietnam War veteran. This was before the call for social distancing. The news was, of course, dominated by the pandemic. Our friend muted the TV during a commercial break and he digressed from Anderson Cooper.
“I remember December 1, 1969, like it was yesterday,” he said. “Draft number drawing night. My birthday is April 24th and it was the second number drawn. I felt doomed.”
He said that afterward, the University of North Carolina campus was filled with drunks: Half were morose with having their futures sidetracked and half were jubilant to have dodged a bullet.
“I’ll admit I had been an entitled college brat who had assumed a healthy, happy-go-lucky future.”
He added that for those with unlucky draft numbers, “mundane events and relationships became like the last meal of a condemned prisoner. You just don’t appreciate simple pleasures until they’re jeopardized,” he said. “And while I was deployed and pretty much living day-to-day, I swore that if I survived that war, I’d never again take for granted people I loved.”
We three exchanged glances, nodded and toasted an unspoken agreement ... and turned our attention back to the pandemic.
Marsh Point Drive
A real perspective
While sitting in my sunroom on April 6, I contemplated the current crisis and how it is affecting our daily lives.
Thoughts of my sister’s and my parents’ (Bert and Doris Gosschalk) horrific ordeal in their lives flooded my mind in comparison.
Our parents were imprisoned in a concentration camp and our father’s cell held 27 Jewish men. While confined in this cramped existence, the commandant requested that anyone who spoke several languages be brought to his office. At that time, our father spoke five languages and so was taken to the commandant’s office.
After the meeting, our father returned to his cell only to be told that all 26 cellmates had been executed; our father was the sole survivor of that cell.
A friend asked me how I feel about today’s world. I said I cry for our parents, but not for myself.
I may be inconvenienced, but I’m alive, home with my best friend, my husband. I have a toilet (not a bucket shared by others). I have food aplenty versus stale bread and water if so fortunate.
I know where my family and friends are and if they are safe and well. Our parents and thousands of others didn’t know the fate of their loved ones or friends.
I take this crisis seriously, yes, but walking outside and smelling the fresh air and not pungent fumes puts everything in perspective for me.
FRIEDA G. BERNSTEIN
Carolina Jasmine Road
Last weekend, I stopped at Wendy’s in Goose Creek to pick up some food and give my wife a break from our “virus” days at home, with her fixing the daily dinner.
This time was different.
As I entered the line of cars waiting to pay for and pick up our food, I noticed a red pickup truck in front of me. When I got to the pay window, the gentleman there told me my meal had been paid for by the man in that pickup.
I was stunned. I couldn’t get up to his window to thank him but did get out of the car and did so as loud as I could.
I told him it was a great gesture and turned an otherwise anxious day into one of appreciating my fellow man.
He simply waved, picked up his order and went on his way.
I’ll never forget that simple gesture by a stranger and can’t wait to pay it forward to someone else.
I wish I knew his name. He made a big impact on me. I’m eternally grateful and will always remember his generosity and thoughtfulness.
Village Stone Circle
As we become them
What happens when we see a panhandler? Some of us give; most of us don’t. They don’t deserve our hard-earned money. But as this virus takes hold, we could become them.
Hospital workers are needed, right? Geometry teachers are still necessary, right? Yes, we are all necessary.
We are needed and we contribute, but not all of us can be compensated now.
Now we are signing up for unemployment assistance.
Now we are visiting food pantries.
Now we are able to pay for prescription medicine or the rent, but not both.
Our elected officials recently voted to send money to most Americans.
Why is it now acceptable to send every adult under a certain income level a check for $1,200 with no questions asked?
We know that not everyone who receives that money will truly need it.
Yet our Congress and president decided it was the necessary thing to do because we are hurting.
What if we thought more like that every day?
What if, once the virus is better controlled, we could all remember how easy it was to become one of “them”?
Maybe that woman asking for money at the stoplight was a chef at our favorite restaurant, but somehow, post-pandemic, she is struggling to find work.
What if we could try harder to help them become us?
Help the farmers
While listening to a farmer in Georgia talking about the loss of migrant labor to harvest his crops, it occurred to me that there is an untapped labor force in the student population that cannot attend school at this time.
These students and/or currently unemployed people who are physically able might be willing to volunteer to rescue these crops without jeopardizing their unemployment benefits.
Perhaps I am naive, but if I were younger and physically able, I would volunteer. Please help our farmers feed us.