The word “anniversary” typically connotes ultra-convivial events: the birthday of a dear one; golden celebrations of longstanding unions; defining historical moments that stir our national pride; silly, random holidays for things we love (because, darn it, this is America, and we deserve special days dedicated to doughnuts, tap dancing, “Star Wars” and turtles — you better get out of my way in the buffet line when it’s National Eat What You Want Day!). These are the annual observances that boost our happiness, hope and civic self-esteem.
But here we are, passed through the gate of a very different type of anniversary. It’s been more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic made its conspicuous landing in our backyard, utterly upending life as we knew it and plunging our global population into a state of constant existential arrest. In response to the threats, losses, suffering and discord that have characterized this past pandemic year, we’ve also been witness to the remarkable ability of humans to rise creatively and bravely to the challenges facing them. You can call this adaptation or resilience, sure. But in the years to come, when we reflect back on this crazy time, the word that many of us might think of first will be heroism.
We of course will remember and regale the truly heroic and tireless efforts of our essential and frontline workers (please show your appreciation for them) and exemplary individuals whose expertise, endeavors and innovations helped turn the tide (you’ll want to read about one such person here), but I think we should also remember how the perilous circumstances of the pandemic engendered a type of ordinary, everyday heroism that is creditable to, well, the multitude of us.
This banality of pandemic heroism — demonstrated daily in our faithful hewing to public health and safety measures and in the sacrifice and suspension of activities that put us and others at risk — has saved lives, keeping the morbidity rate in our greater metro area the lowest in the United States. That sounds like textbook heroism to me.
So, this year on April 28 — the official National Superhero Day — reflect not only on the many standout heroes in our community fighting this pandemic and keeping society from toppling over, but honor yourself and your kids for your part in sticking to a safe course. The end is in sight!