“We Did What We Had to Do”

Virtual meetings are no longer a novel idea. In fact, most are quite painful. 

 I walk in a grocery store and see plexiglass at the check out counters.  I wonder if it makes a difference.

Our son’s school just went to remote learning.  I want to scream.

Like everyone, I am suffering from covid fatigue.  We are social beings and crave interactions with others.  Government officials are again telling us to limit social interactions.  It feels like this pandemic will never end.  It will.

I am reminded of a message my grandfather delivered to me time and time again.  He was truly a special person.  At the age of 19, he started flying “the hump” during World War II.  From the description of “Flying the Hump: Memories of an Air War” by Otha C. Spencer on Amazon:

Noted historian Theodore White called it “the most dangerous, terrifying, barbarous aerial transport run in the world . . . the skyway to Hell.” This is the story of the air war over the Himalaya Mountains, in World War II, when Japan and China were locked in a death struggle. China was completely cut off from the world, and the transport planes of the Allies flew day and night missions for three and one half years over the Himalayas to keep China supplied with the needs of war. This was called the Hump. Gen. Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers crossed the Hump to outgun the Japanese Zeros in some of the most spectacular air battles of World War II. More than one thousand airmen and six hundred transport planes were lost, flying air routes that were so dangerous they were called the “aluminum trail.” The B-29 Superfortress flew four-day missions across the Hump to bomb the Japanese mainland. The Hump was the epic of World War II in the air. 

Fortunately (and obviously), my grandfather survived World War II.  As I got older and would converse with him about life, I would ask him about his experiences in World War II.  He would usually start a story with tales of the snakes in India or about how he thinks he contracted malaria.  Occasionally, he would talk about how cold it was in the B-29 and how lonely he felt.  When he would get to emotional topics, he would say, “Brian, we did what we had to do.”  I knew then the conversation was getting difficult for him.  Usually, the war conversation ended and we moved on to another topic. 

Generation after generation deals with its challenges.  Coming generations will deal with their challenges.  Rather than wallowing in self-pity, let’s take a lesson from The Greatest Generation.  Let’s do what we have to do. 

Happy Thanksgiving.  Take a moment to be grateful for the generations that came before us.

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