As you may have noticed, it's been a week since I last wrote a column. I needed some time to clear my head so to speak, because the first seven months of 2020 have been the most difficult few months of our lifetime. Oh I think back to my childhood when we had to do bomb shelter drills in schools, all the while praying that the USSR would not send nuclear missiles to Madison, Tennessee. It was extremely difficult back then but nothing like we are experiencing today. We had plenty to stress out about in 1961 but the big difference is how we as a society reacted to it.
When we were informed of the possibility of a nuclear war between Russia and the United States, our citizens calmly did what we were instructed to do.
A list of bomb shelters in each community were given and for my neighborhood our shelter was Amqui Elementary School, where I attended school as a fourth-grader. My family followed every direction from the government perfectly, as did everyone else. There were no protests about why we shouldn't prepare for a nuclear attack or folks did not openly defy instructions. There was no "fake news" or conspiracy theories. The events surrounding that stressful time were never called a "hoax." We all did as we were told and soon things returned to normal.
That's not how things are playing out in 2020. There is so much division in our country that we are unable to get control of anything and that includes Covid-19. Death rates continue to spike as do the number of cases around the country. For the last three days, we have had more deaths from Covid-19 in Hamilton County than the entire state of New York. While administrators are going full speed ahead to open schools in our area, despite what doctors and scientists are saying, other systems in Tennessee are already shutting down after a few days.
Earlier this morning, I received word that one of my dear friends from my old neighborhood in Madison, Mark Dyer, lost his father-in-law to Covid-19 yesterday.
Mark is a former General Manager of the Vol Network and currently lives in Pilot Point, Texas and is the founder and CEO of Taymar Sales U. Up until today, Mark had stopped posting anything about the Coronavirus because of the toxic comments he had received from other people. Mark took the "high road" as he begged everyone to "Please take this awful virus seriously, every single minute of every single day."
On a more positive note, I have noticed more people wearing masks lately. That's a big step in the right direction but we are a long way from nearing the end of this. Sports is trying its best to get back in the swing of things, but there are still doubts about completing baseball and getting football off the ground this fall. If you remember a few months ago, we were warned that if we wanted to see college football we should social distance and wear masks. If everyone had done that in April and May, things would likely look much different now. But we didn't. In fact, the Lincoln Day fundraising dinner for Republicans in Hamilton County was held on July 31st, with few masks and no social distancing. Now it's been reported that someone was at that fundraiser who was positive for Covid-19 and it's a matter of time before we see if that GOP arrogance was justified.
All I can say now is to repeat what my old friend Mark Dyer said, "Please take this awful virus seriously, every single minute of every single day."
Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com