Never underestimate what America can achieve once she puts her mind to it. “Raymond C. Butler
World War Two bomber pilot & my grandfather
Greetings from the War Room. We’re still here. Answering questions and researching the RV industry. Books and RV Reports are still going out daily and interviews continue with dealers and manufacturers (mostly by phone for now). Thankfully, our customers can still shop and buy via our website. (I really can’t emphasize our thanks strongly enough.) Many other small businesses aren’t so lucky, requiring actual foot traffic to pass through their doors. These are troubling times for many, but especially for them and their employees.
As everyone knows, there is an elephant in the room and no one knows how much damage it may do before we manage to shoo it out the door. While the elephant (Coronavirus –obviously) itself may prove to have a mild disposition (for most), the collateral damage from its presence is proving to be substantial.
Fear of the unknown is always worse than fear of the known. Since we’re dealing with a microscopic virus that can’t be seen with the naked eye, human interaction and public places are suddenly viewed with suspicion, which is kind of creepy.
As is typical these days, Americans are split in to two camps. The media is either doing a public service by keeping people informed, or, making things worse by needlessly scaring the wits out of everyone.
What no one is disputing is the damage to the economy and the disruption of our daily lives. For the first time in the lives of many Americans, we’re having to deal with quarantines and banned travel on a grand scale. Personally, while I had no upcoming plans to travel to Europe or attend an NBA game, the fact that I have been forbidden from pursuing these things is a new and unsettling experience. “I’m an American,” I think to myself, “I can go anywhere and do anything I want.” Well, no. Not for the immediate future.
Many of us are just now starting to realize how interconnected the strands of our economy really are, with each component dependent on other components. Suspending the NBA season may seem a minor event for non-fans (or a relief for Knicks fans), but consider that every arena is staffed by multitudes of service workers -ticket scanners (and scalpers), beer vendors, parking lot attendants, media personnel, and janitorial staff. Outside the arena are all the neighborhood bars and restaurants (with their own service workers) that depend on home games for a large chunk of their revenue. Every game brings in opposing fans on airplanes that book rooms in local hotels. It just goes on and on until you realize we really are all in this together, all of us dependent on each other.
While this disruption to daily life may be a new experience for most Americans, this is hardly the first challenge for America. Our shared history has proven time and time again that when we pull together, our might and power is unprecedented.
During the reign of Adolf Hitler, Germany’s military was considered unbeatable, steamrolling its way through Europe with almost ludicrous ease. It is not hyperbole to say that many in the world had resigned themselves to the idea that the German empire would soon control all of Europe, and, possibly, the world. Great Britain did their best to check the German aggression, but it wasn’t until we -the Americans- showed up, that the Nazis began to experience doubt, followed by regret, followed by unconditional surrender.
The German military was the biggest and best equipped in the world at the outset of WWII. America, safely protected by oceans on each side, had a military smaller than Portugal -but that didn’t last long. Factories that had been churning out automobiles and washing machines repurposed themselves and began producing munitions, and the ships and airplanes needed to deliver them personally to the Fuhrer. Millions signed up for military service and millions more manned the assembly lines.
Together we fought a mighty foe and triumphed. There’s a massive history lesson in that single sentence –and it’s extremely relevant to our current crisis. Is it possible that the coronavirus is the sort of challenge that will bring us together as “United” States again? Victory, and a return to our daily lives, won’t be hastened by a continuing national argument about where the fault lies. In the light of an advancing threat, this is not the time to be squabbling with each other.
Luckily, history has proven that nothing brings people together like a common foe. In the days ahead, people may stop thinking of themselves as Republicans and Democrats living in red states or blue states, and start thinking of themselves, first and foremost, as Americans.
And if that happens? To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this may prove to be one of our finest hours.
In lieu of suggesting that everyone check their tire pressures before hitting the road, this week I would like to remind everyone to wash their hands!
We’ve got this.