I imagine at some point this week you thought, if only for a moment, that the world was unraveling. We listen for the daily count of those that are infected and those that have died. Plans with our friends and family are being cancelled indefinitely. We worship behind computer screens. We aren’t supposed to hug our parents or our children.
Many of you have lost your job, or you show up each day to your job with the fear that the next day you will be your last with a paycheck. Many of you who have finally retired, after a life of hard work, and are watching your retirement accounts wither. Even the most optimistic among us must admit that we live under a shadow.
But we’ve been here before, haven’t we? In 1917, our young men sailed across the ocean to stop foreign imperialists. In 1929, the economy collapsed. In 1941, we entered a war to decide whether we would live free or serve fascists. Young men died in the fields of Korea and the jungles of Vietnam to answer the question of whether the great experiment of Democracy could survive the spread of Authoritarianism. Throughout all these wars, mothers and daughters nursed the wounded, worked in factories, and served their country at home. And we still stand.
In the 1990s we fought against a despot in the Middle East. From the crumbling of the Twin Towers until today, we’ve fought countless battles against terrorists who have sought to annihilate the very fabric of our Country with fear and radicalism. While our young men and women fought and died in the sand thousands of miles away, the economy faltered yet again in 2007 and we saw good, hard-working people without homes and without prospects. And we still stand.
Even in times we thought were peaceful, our loved ones stood ready by land, sea, and air to protect us from the next great threat. Here, at home, law enforcement officers have faced, and will continue to face, danger as they protect our communities from the evil at hand. And we still stand.
And in these past 100 years, we’ve fought polio, smallpox, tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid fever, HIV, H1N1, SARS, and now Corona Virus. Doctors, scientists, pharmacists, nurses, EMTs, firefighters, and every other manner of first responder have fought against these silent killers, conquering and controlling each one as best they could. And we still stand.
The history of this great country, and of this community, is one of immense challenge and remarkable perseverance. I have seen it in my own time on this Earth and in the calloused hands and wise eyes of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. We sacrifice, we overcome, and we stand.
I cannot tell you when this crisis will be over. But as I’ve reflected over these strange times, I came across a slogan the British used as they were ramping up for war in 1939. It gave me some comfort, which I hope it will give you. The government encouraged its citizens, who eventually suffered nightly bombing attacks by the Germans, to “Keep Calm and Carry On.” No one could ever excuse me of having a British “stiff upper lip,” I am from Thomaston after all, so the best I can do is encourage you to “Settle Down and Don’t Quit.” We are all in this together. We will prevail, and we will stand.
So how do we Settle Down and Don’t Quit? For my small part, the offices of the District Attorney will continue to protect you by prosecuting crimes and pushing the wheel of justice forward as we move past these disruptions. Our office will be open, and this time of uncertainty will not be an opportunity for evildoers to take advantage of this difficult situation.
As for the rest, be kind to those around you. Get takeout from your favorite restaurant. Check on that senior citizen who is staying at home. Tell your friend who works in health care how much their hard work means to you and your family. Be a good neighbor. You know what to do. Stay healthy, this too shall pass, and we, as Americans, will stand.