In this time of tremendous and growing uncertainty, one thing is becoming increasingly certain.
A lot of Americans are fed up with COVID-19.
Though the coronavirus pandemic has only been a huge factor in our lives for just more than two months, many people seem to have decided they are done with it.
They don’t want to wear a mask or worry about keeping any social distance.
They want everything to reopen. Resume life as it was in January. The consequences be damned!
Look, we’d all like to return to what life was like before we ever heard the word coronavirus. Meals out. Haircuts. Gym workouts. Concerts. Ballgames. Just simply feeling safe to be out and about.
But tempting as it may be to flip COVID-19 the bird, get on with our lives, and let the chips fall where they may, we need to be aware that those falling chips might bring even worse issues, more illnesses and deaths.
I’m sure our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had similar feelings about getting their former lives back during World War II, with loved ones fighting overseas and rationing and other sacrifices being made at home.
You might think it’s a stretch to compare this pandemic to life during World War II, but the need to sacrifice and consider the greater good is very similar.
I did a little reading about rationing this week on the website of The National World War II Museum. As the United States geared up for full entry into the war in both Europe and the Pacific after the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the process of rationing goods considered necessary for the fight began.
Rationing, as a website story explained, “involved setting limits on purchasing certain high-demand items,” such as food, shoes, metal, paper, and rubber.
Tires, the site reported, were the first product to be rationed, starting in January 1942. “Everyday consumers could no longer buy new tires; they could only have their existing tires patched or have the treads replaced. Doctors, nurses, and fire and police personnel could purchase new tires, as could the owners of buses, certain delivery trucks and some farm tractors, but they had to apply at their local rationing board for approval.”
Personal automobiles were rationed in February 1942, followed by gasoline in May. Also in May, the government began rationing certain foods, starting with sugar, then coffee, meats, canned fish, cheese and canned milk.
Americans were given ration coupon books. In addition to paying for whatever you needed to have enough points on those coupons to qualify for the purchase.
Not surprisingly, the program had issues. Whenever it was announced a new item would soon be rationed, people apparently rushed to stores to buy up as many of the restricted items as possible, causing shortages. (Sound familiar?)
“Black market trading in everything from tires to meat to school buses plagued the nation, resulted in a steady stream of hearings and even arrests for merchants and consumers who skirted the law,” the website story reported. ... “State legislatures passed laws calling for stiff punishments for black market operators.” (Again, sound familiar?)
I can still remember my mom telling stories about rationing and the resulting shortages. It lasted through the end of the war — the summer of 1945 — a total of about three years.
We’ve been dealing with our current crisis for about two months now.
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