robert

Those of us living through this terrible and frightening global pandemic often hear about the heroes on the frontline who are battling this life and death struggle each and every day.

My wife Laura drives to work every day in East Memphis where the raging pandemic continues to claim lives. As a healthcare professional, her new job involves the business end of patient care, but she is very involved in helping to manage patient care in light of the pandemic.

As a registered nurse, Laura has assisted our family in life-saving occasions more than once. Quickly utilizing the Heimlich maneuver, she saved our daughter Annie’s life when she was about three. Annie had been choking while lying on her back on the bedroom floor and Laura sprang into action. Annie is now 15 and in high school, with plans for college.

Laura dons her mask and gloves when out shopping and disinfects her hands upon leaving work. When possible, we pick up our groceries curbside at the supermarket. As an individual in the high-risk category, with hypertension and diabetes, I can ill afford to be exposed to the COVID virus.

I, too, wear a mask and gloves when possible. Our sweet but stir-crazy daughter has worn a mask and gloves when helping her mother pick out flowers and plants at a local nursery.

With the potential spread of the coronavirus from asymptomatic carriers who may be completely unaware of their ability to spread this potentially fatal disease, it’s only wise that we wear masks, more to protect others than ourselves.

They are my heroes, and I have a hunch you have heroes in your home, too.

Quite frankly, we are all dealing with this pandemic on a day-to-day basis. Despite all the political protestations aside, when it comes to making life and death decisions, those decisions must be based upon the advice of health care experts, along with prayer and contemplation.

This terrible disease is not one that targets Democrats, or Republicans or independents. It does not target white, or black, Hispanic, or Asian people. It is a human disease. As a pastor as well as a historian, I have discovered that erring on the side of caution can save lives. Using common sense and the best medical advice available saved lives back in 1918 and it will save lives again if we don’t let our restlessness and impatience get the best of us.

In John Babb’s book, “Voices of the Dead,” he writes of quarantine stations, some which included Whitehaven, Horn Lake, Hernando, Grenada and other places, especially New Orleans and Memphis, which included armed policemen posted at each jurisdiction during the great yellow fever epidemic of 1878.

Newspapers of the day related the possibility that any individual trying to break quarantine could be shot on sight, following a warning shot, if they did not obey.

Thankfully, in this country, it has not come to that, although armed protesters in the Michigan Capitol certainly gave all of us pause for thought.

We cannot lose our heads during this difficult time and we certainly cannot lose heart.

Men and women in the ranks of our emergency services go to work every day, literally placing their lives on the line for all of us.

In the congregation of our small church, we have heroes who in the words of the Scriptures, have become “living sacrifices,” men and women who place themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe.

One vivacious woman and mother of two, Jeny Price, is an emergency dispatcher who unselfishly volunteered to coordinate communication on the emergency phone lines when a fellow worker came down with the COVID virus.

Her husband Tyler, a quiet, tall unassuming fellow, is a law enforcement officer who regularly protects and defends us all each and every day because he is a dedicated public servant.

My good friend Lee Ashcraft, long-time Habitat for Humanity volunteer, and his small band of volunteers will dedicate yet another home for a family in need this coming Saturday and will be taking great pains to make sure volunteers number no more than 10 and practice social distancing.

A church member named Jodi Branch, despite being in her late eighties and with underlying health conditions suits up with mask and gloves to buy needed items at the Dollar Tree Store in Horn Lake for underprivileged students and families. Jodi has spearheaded our church’s food pantry effort for years despite her advanced age.

These are people putting their lives at risk during this pandemic. These are people who wear masks but need no capes to perform miracles and acts of heroism.

They are our heroes just the same. And we are grateful.

Robert Lee Long is Curator of the DeSoto County Museum.