This Thanksgiving, many Americans will have difficulty saying thanks, and that’s understandable. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the nation with loved ones dying, restrictions testing our fortitude and health experts warning us to stay home on the holiday.
Yet, North Dakota and the rest of the country have reasons to say thanks. There are vaccines on the way, created in record time, that may send COVID-19 to the curb. Since March, we have seen Americans do amazing feats, from simple acts of kindness to first responders putting their lives on the line. Too many have died helping others fight and survive the coronavirus.
This week, 60 U.S. Air Force nurses began deploying in North Dakota to help ease the burden on nurses and other medical personnel that have been under incredible stress fighting the pandemic.
The Air Force nurses will be in the state for at least a month and possibly for six months. A temporary staffing agency also is contracting with the Department of Health to provide 60 nursing staff for hospitals and nursing homes.
Some of these nurses will be on duty before Thanksgiving, which means they will be in a place they may have never visited for the holiday. Some likely will spend Thanksgiving at work assisting those who are ill.
That’s a sacrifice for which all North Dakotans should be thankful. It’s quite possible the nurses will be here for Christmas. Of course, many of our local health workers and first responders will be spending the holidays on duty. They will not only be sacrificing time with their families, but in many cases putting their lives at risk.
If you have the opportunity to meet a visiting nurse or a local responder, be sure to thank them for their service.
Everyone has to decide what sacrifices they want to make or what risks to take. It may seem simple to just stay home for the holiday, but it’s not always that easy. Someone with elderly relatives or friends may be concerned it might be the last holiday that they will be with us. At the same time, we might fear we could somehow take COVID-19 to them.
There are no easy decisions during this pandemic. The Tribune editorial board hopes that people make safe decisions, whatever their plans are. Get tested, wear masks, use sanitizer and practice social distancing.
This country has endured many terrible periods during its history: the Great Depression, two world wars and 9/11, to name a few.
During the influenza pandemic of 1918, Americans were warned to stay home on Thanksgiving and avoid large gatherings. An estimated 195,000 Americans had died that October, and health officials worried holiday gatherings would result in more deaths. People were weary of lockdowns and there was opposition to mask wearing. It was similar to what’s happening today.
The decisions were just as difficult 102 years ago as they are now. The Tribune encourages everyone to decide on safety for yourself and others. Just as the nation survived the 1918 flu, the country will overcome the pandemic.
We should be especially thankful for our loved ones this holiday season. For those who lost loved ones, cherish your memories. There will be laughter on Thanksgiving whether we gather in person or remotely. It will be a taste of the good times that will be coming again to this state, nation and world.