As we are all dealing with the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, it feels strange to me that, for the first time since I relocated here in 2009, I cannot simply get on a plane to return to the land of my birth if I need to or want to. I know my American husband felt the same after 9/11 when we lived in London, England.
These are trying times for us all as we think about the health and wellbeing of those we love, as well as the economic consequences of the pandemic, which are already starting to bite. However, I take comfort in the resilience of the human race, as well as the lessons of history – and this time is no exception.
Personally, I hope I can combine the best of stereotypical British and American traits during these challenging times, as I am a citizen of both nations, both legally and emotionally. The British are known for their stoical nature, for having a “stiff upper lip” and “staying calm and carrying on”, while Americans “rise to the occasion” and “just go get it done.”
Turning to history, one of the most obvious examples of a need to endure is the World War II, which began for the land of my birth on Sept. 3, 1939. The British, led by one of the strongest political leaders in history, Winston Churchill, were alone as a tiny island in Europe that was not occupied by the Nazis. My grandparents endured nightly bombing raids by the Germans, strict food rationing and family separation as the men went to fight abroad.
The women worked in factories to make weapons, became “land girls” to maximize domestic food production on farms, and generally kept the home fires burning as many men were killed, disabled and missing. After the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, Americans joined the war in both the Pacific and European theaters. The USA focused and sacrificed so much, and it turned the tide of the war. America not only protected our way of life but, in my view, is pretty much responsible for saving the world and the concept of democracy. After the war, the Americans continued to help in the rebuilding of Europe’s economy through the Marshall Plan. To me, this demonstrates America’s generosity, positive spirit and general ability to get things done. I see it in my husband, my American friends and my American family, all of whom have a determination to succeed through working hard, as well as a generosity and desire to do the right thing that always shines through.
I take great comfort from the first American settlers who left their homes for an unknown land to carve out a better life, and to the patriotic Americans who bravely fought in the War of Independence and won, against all odds.
I am reassured that we think of ourselves as a community not just as individuals, and during the 11 years I have lived in Coastal Georgia, this conviction has only grown.
Some things seem hard and a bit scary right now, but like you I am counting my blessings and remain absolutely firm in my belief that better times are ahead.
I say goodbye this week with a short but highly relevant quote from the great English 16th century author, William Shakespeare, from his timeless play, Hamlet: “This too shall pass.”
God bless America.
Stay safe, stay well and stay positive.