By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
Election Day. Veteran’s Day. Pearl Harbor Day. Do these days have anything in common? They do — more than most of us might think. The catastrophic attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, shocked the nation into unprecedented action. Millions of people who had ignored the war in Europe and Asia could no longer remain unaware or uninvolved. Massive numbers of people rushed to enlist or pitch in on the home front to defend freedom itself. People willingly sacrificed everything from gasoline, to meat and sugar, to fabrics and metals for the sake of the war effort. Discipline and sacrifice were a given.
Veteran’s Day (originally called Armistice Day) honors the end of World War I. Few of us can even begin to fathom the anguish, misery, and suffering endured by the troops in Europe. The horrors of trench warfare, malnutrition, hideous infectious disease, nerve gas, and deprivation of every sort took a terrible toll. Nearly half of U.S. troops who died succumbed to complications of the Spanish Flu. A hundred years ago, there were no antiviral drugs and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial pneumonia or meningitis. Curiously, President Wilson never even gave a speech about the flu pandemic.
In World War I and World War II, the hardships of sacrifices endured by so many millions of people were intense. But how does that relate to Election Day 2020? It’s not that strange or complex. The two greatest enemies of freedom are apathy and cowardice. It’s been that way for thousands of years. We are in a time of great conflict and uncertainty. Angry, jealous, controlling people are everywhere. Remember, if someone is trying to frighten you, he or she is trying to control you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t be demoralized. Observe, think, and vote. Apathy and cowardice have dreadful consequences.