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This Week’s LION: Coronavirus Chronicles

We are in truly remarkable times. Consider the past one hundred years, and what events stopped this country in its tracks. There was Pearl Harbor (1941), Kennedy’s assassination (1963), the 911 attacks (2001), and now the COVID (Crisis/Scare?) of 2020. Yes, there have certainly been headline-grabbing events over past decades such as Watergate in the 70s, the OJ Simpson trial in the 90s, and major sports events such as the US Olympic hockey team’s victory over the USSR in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Still, they did not impact people to the degree that is happening now.

No, these are historic times, because nothing quite like this has EVER happened in our history. Never has there been a “stop-dead-in-your-tracks” situation like America is currently experiencing. Schools, colleges, libraries, shops, restaurants, and even churches are practicing “social distancing,” which means they are closed for business. If someone had told me even in February that in just a few short weeks, the NCAA Basketball March Madness, the PGA Masters golf tournament, as well as the NBA and NHL playoff games were all going to get put on hold, I would have called 911 to get that guy hauled away.

Anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty are widespread because of all the conflicting messages, and no one really knows what is going to happen next. But rather than sit around home and view these days as wasted, I would like to suggest a way to do something that is very meaningful as well as very therapeutic at the same time.

We are all suffering from ‘social distancing’ which is a very nice term for ‘social isolation,’ and since we are all in the same boat, we do not believe our experiences are anything special. However, this is not true. Fifty, a hundred years from now, people not yet born will be reading about the Great 2020 Whatever-it-will-be-called. They will read about all the cancellations and the disruptions, the volatile stock market, and the resulting repercussions in the United States and the rest of the world. History teachers might very well be teaching their students that this was the turning point of the 21st century.

And those not-yet-born might ask, “I wonder what it was like to go through all that? What were they feeling when their world was being turned upside down? How did my (grandfather, grandmother, etc.) cope with all that day-to-day stress and uncertainty? I wish there were someone around who still remembers those times.”

We can be their answer – each and every one of us. If we would keep a daily journal and just write down our thoughts, it will preserve this time for future generations. It does not have to be eloquent; it just needs to be honest. Share with “Dear Diary” exactly what you are thinking and feeling on a day-by-day basis. It will help you unload, and when this is all over, seal it up and put it away in a very safe place and mark it “to be opened when I’m gone.” It may very well be one of the most valuable assets you may leave your future prodigy.

There is a historical precedent for this, and that was the American Civil War. I have been fascinated for some time with the Battle of Gettysburg and have at least a dozen books on that great turning point in the war. What has amazed me about the history of that event is how much detail there is on virtually every single unit that fought in the battle. On some of the engagements, we have an almost minute-by-minute account of what happened between relatively small units fighting each other. The reason for this is because these regular soldiers wrote letters afterward to their loved ones and shared what happened. They knew that what they experienced was worth remembering.

Lazy historians simply research the ‘official’ accounts of the generals or the later memoirs where they try to paint themselves in the best light. But the great historians mine the treasure trove of information that is found in the thousands and thousands of letters that tell the story with painful honesty.

We are like those soldiers right now, and we can be the LIONS (Leaders in our Neighborhood) for future generations. Pick up a pen and write it down! Don’t trust electronic media to record your thoughts, because our technology today might be like 8-track tapes in the future. We are history in the making, let us all tell the story.

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