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Say A Prayer, Give Thanks To The Frontline

Whenever I have met an Army veteran wearing a medal/badge with a rifle on a blue background resting on a laurel wreath, I take special notice. This is one of the highest honors, in my view, that can be attained in the U.S. Army–the Combat Infantryman Badge. It means, “yes,” I have been in combat in the infantry and engaged in armed struggle on behalf of my country.

The other day as I left my doctor’s office following a routine visit, a receptionist and secretary said to me: “Now, in light of this virus going around, don’t forget to wash your hands regularly and stay away from big crowds.” I looked back at her and said: “Thank you for the admonition, but you also be careful. You are seeing sick people all day here at the office.” She, and all of those working in the health care field seeing patients every day, are the new “infantrymen” in our battle with this disease.

As is true with other families, we have individuals in our family who are health care professionals and are now in combat on the frontlines of this crisis… so there is a very personal dimension for us in this battle.

I read recently an article about two young female doctors in Wuhan, China who became infected with the disease. One of them lived, and one didn’t. Then there was the doctor in Wuhan who tried to sound the alarm of the deadly peril of the disease, but who became infected and died. Finally, the political leadership in China stopped “tamping down” the problem, embraced the seriousness of it and began taking steps to control it.

Those of us sitting on the sidelines are faced with a peril that we have not known in my lifetime. Our lives will not be the same after this. Hopefully, most of us will “dodge the bullet” and life will return to normal.

These times, though, remind me of my experiences as a young child when we were confronted with rationing, scrap drives and shortages of various things during World War II. That same sense that “we are all in this together,” is what I am feeling in the public mood today.

Having said that, we should say a prayer and give thanks to those who are in the frontlines of this battle in the health care field. They are confronting an enemy that is unseen and operating with great stealth.

They have limited test kits and protective gear. The attack came so quickly that they have had to adapt “on the fly.” They are in the bunkers. They are in foxholes and the bullets are flying.

Yes, they are the new “infantrymen” (and women) of our age. I hope that when this is all done, and the healthcare crisis of 2020 is in the rear-view mirror–that someone will produce a “Combat Infantryman Badge” for them. Maybe it could be something sewn onto a gown or coat so that when they come down the hall in a doctor’s office or hospital, we could give them a special salute or word of “thanks.”

As in all combat, heroics are not pre-planned or conjured up, they are earned. Those who would wear such a medal were there, they did their job, they helped others and did not seek recognition or praise for it. When times were tough, they stepped up with professionalism, compassion and selflessness.

The “infantrymen” in this battle against disease deserve the gratitude of all of us.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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