My dad was born on June 15, 1926. He was 15 ½ when the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked on December 7, 1941. Dad wanted to join the Navy right then, but his mom made him wait until he turned 17. He served in the Pacific Theater of Operations from 1943 until World War II ended in 1945.

Everyone sacrificed during the war. Many essential commodities were rationed. According to Wikipedia: “Sugar was the first consumer commodity rationed [in May 1942]...with a ration of .5 pounds (0.23 kg) per person per week....

“As of 1 March 1942, dog food could no longer be sold in tin cans, and manufacturers switched to dehydrated versions. As of 1 April 1942, anyone wishing to purchase a new toothpaste tube, then made from metal, had to turn in an empty one. By June 1942 companies also stopped manufacturing metal office furniture, radios, television sets, phonographs, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and sewing machines for civilians.

“By the end of 1942, ration coupons were used for nine other items: typewriters, gasoline, bicycles, shoes, rubber footwear, silk, nylon, fuel oil, and stoves. Meat, lard, shortening and food oils, cheese, butter, margarine, processed foods (canned, bottled, and frozen), dried fruits, canned milk, firewood and coal, jams, jellies, and fruit butter were rationed by November 1943.”

During World War II, practically everyone had a son or brother or husband or boyfriend or cousin serving in the military. People sacrificed for the sake of their beloved family members — not for the U.S. government. It was known as The Greatest Generation.

According to Wikipedia: “The term The Greatest Generation was popularized by the title of a 1998 book by American journalist Tom Brokaw. In the book, Brokaw profiled American members of this generation who came of age during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II, as well as those who contributed to the war effort on the home front. Brokaw wrote that these men and women fought not for fame or recognition, but because it was the ‘right thing to do.’ ”

According to the Center for Disease Control: “Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body).”

According to Wikipedia: “During the early 1950s, polio rates in the U.S. were above 25,000 annually; in 1952 and 1953, the U.S. experienced an outbreak of 58,000 and 35,000 polio cases, respectively, up from a typical number of some 20,000 a year, with deaths in those years numbering 3,200 and 1,400. Amid this U.S. polio epidemic, millions of dollars were invested in finding and marketing a polio vaccine.

“The first effective polio vaccine was developed in 1952 by Jonas Salk and a team at the University of Pittsburgh....

“Polio vaccines have eliminated polio from most of the world, and reduced the number of cases reported each year from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 33 in 2018.”

I got the polio vaccine around 1960, when I was 5 or 6. My mother talked about Jonas Salk like he was a very great man — a genius and a savior. She talked about the polio vaccine like it was the greatest thing since penicillin.

According to Wikipedia: “Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. He won a record four presidential elections and...directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II, which ended shortly after he died in office.”

According to its website: “March of Dimes is a United States nonprofit organization that...was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, to combat polio.”

FDR was diagnosed with polio in 1921, at the age of 39. Until his death in 1945, he worked tirelessly to combat polio. Unfortunately, FDR did not live quite long enough to see the success of the Salk vaccine.

Now fast forward 75 years to 2020 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Donald J. Trump is nearing the end of his first term as President. He and his supporters perceive the outbreak of COVID-19 not as a serious threat to public health and safety, but rather as a threat to Trump’s chances for reelection.

In The New York Times (2/28/2020), “Trump Accuses Media and Democrats of Exaggerating Coronavirus Threat,” Peter Baker and Anna Karni report: “President Trump and members of his administration mobilized on Friday to confront the threat of the coronavirus — not just the outbreak, but the news media and the Democrats they accused of exaggerating its danger.

“Mr. Trump said that news outlets like CNN were ‘doing everything they can to instill fear in people,’ while some Democrats were ‘trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.’ His acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, went even further, telling conservative activists that journalists were hyping the coronavirus because ‘they think this will bring down the president; that’s what this is all about.’ ”

In Newsweek (2/28/2020), Jorge Solis reports: “Donald Trump Jr. accused the Democrats of sabotaging the president’s winning streak by wishing for the deadly coronavirus to spread and kill millions of Americans.

“In a Friday interview with Fox & Friends, Donald Trump’s son implied that the Democrats are rooting for a coronavirus outbreak and mass deaths throughout the United States. The president’s eldest son blamed the Democrats for repeating their strategy against the president. ‘The playbook is old at this point. But for them to try to use a pandemic, and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they can end Donald Trump’s streak of winning, is a new level of sickness.’ ”

While Trump and friends ignored the truth, the scientific community responded quickly. Two safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were created and authorized for emergency use in less than a year.

President Trump, however, did practically nothing to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. Instead he promoted useless, ridiculous, and dangerous treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, injecting people with disinfectants, and exposing patients’ bodies to UV light.

In Forbes (8/26/2021), Robert Hart reports: “1 In 3 Americans Had Covid By The End Of 2020, Models Estimate—That’s Four Times The Official Count.”

More than 800,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. Yet according to the CDC, just 51.1% of the total population have received the full course of vaccinations necessary to protect against COVID-19.

My dear friend Dr. Cynthia Haq serves as chair of the University of California-Irvine Department of Family Medicine. Our daughter Julie works as a respiratory therapist at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. They see firsthand the needless, senseless suffering and death from COVID-19, mostly affecting unvaccinated people.

My parents belonged to The Greatest Generation. Selfish, fearful, and downright foolish, the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers should go down in history as The Lamest Generation.

Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.

Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.

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