Letter: Follow example of those responding to pandemic

Editor,

Memorial Day will soon be here. This holiday is celebrated as a time to honor all Americans who died while in the U.S. military service. On this day, our flag is raised to the top of the pole, and then lowered to half-mast until noon. We remember those who have died with both grief and gratitude.

They fought to keep us secure, and we pause in late May as a bow to the collective sacrifice.

This year promises to be unlike any other Memorial Day in the history of the holiday. There will be no parades. No large group picnics. No crowds. No concerts. We will mark it by respecting this phase of the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order for our state. But, like so many moments in this “time out of time” of the pandemic, it is the chance to reconsider. What did these many souls die for us to have? Freedom, yes, but also the collective identity of “American.”

The good fortune to call this country home, and the responsibility to do our part in its survival.

Civility First … So We Can Work Together, a local bipartisan nonprofit, would like to remind you that part of our collective identity is caring about our fellow citizens. Part of our responsibility is not only to live by our own beliefs, but to honor and respect those of others. As tempers get shorter with the stress caused by COVID-19, let’s remember that we have both the freedom and the responsibility to work together to face and solve the challenges that arise.

It is our tradition to join and fight against whatever would take American lives. This year those enemies are invisible. There is the virus, invisible to the eye and dangerous to the lungs. And there is also the invisible foe of contempt. Contempt for the desperation of our neighbors, who have different ideas about when to open up for business.

Contempt for decision-makers, as they try to lead us through this biological emergency. And fiercest of all, contempt for anyone who would endanger what we hold most dear. Of the two — the virus and contempt – contempt is by far the more dangerous. We will find a way to treat and then prevent this novel coronavirus. But the only “treatments” for contempt are compassion and patience.

The virus can take our lives, but mutual contempt can destroy our nation.

Please follow the inspiring example of those who are even now working to address this pandemic. We encourage you to reach out to your neighbors in friendship and support, and to cut them and yourselves considerable slack as we find our way into a secure and healthy future. Remember the sacrifice of so many to make this country a safe one, and when the flag rises to the top of the pole at noon on Memorial Day, let it remind us that in both grief and gratitude we can be here for each other.

Board of Directors, Civility First … So We Can Work Together

Cathy Whitmire, Clinton, Sandi Peterson, Oak Harbor, Charlotte Fairfield, Coupeville, Gary Wray, Oak Harbor, Charles Terry, Langley, and Kate Bracy, Clinton

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