Wilton columnist: We learn from dark times past

We are facing today, what some people, particularly younger generations, believe to be the end of the way of life as we know it. Isolation or lack of social activity, closed non-essential businesses that many took for granted, including me, have all drastically changed the way we live.

I believe that while there will be changes to the way we carry on in life after this pandemic is over, whatever shape these changes take, they will be for the better. Being more aware of one another’s space, simple hygiene care such as coughing/sneezing into your elbow, not socializing in close settings when you are sick and looking to assist others less fortunate, especially seniors, are not inconvenient lessons we are learning.

History shows that when we take lessons from disasters like this, we become better for them. This does not minimize those who suffer in the meantime, whether yourself, a family member or friend. Quite the opposite, we pass these lessons down to the younger people so it becomes a way of life.

Take for example events before, during and after World War II. Ninety years ago began one of the darkest periods of American life, the Great Depression. At its peak, unemployment was 25 percent, the economy shrank by 50 percent and bank after bank failed. This triggered a world-wide depression, which (I believe) triggered the rise of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. With many countries facing their own problems, isolationism was the keyword for many countries, including the United States. When Germany invaded Poland and Pearl Harbor was bombed, isolation was no longer a choice. For Americans, we lived almost four years of a struggle that was in doubt up to the last few months before the Axis powers surrendered.

During the war, in America, though we ramped up the economy through war-time production, many everyday products were rationed. Food such as sugar, meat, cheese, butter, processed canned, bottled and frozen food, jams and even coffee required ration books. Even dog food was affected; it could no longer be sold in tin cans and was sold in a dehydrated form.

Other items such as tires, autos, gasoline, furniture, radios, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, shoes and washing machines were all either rationed or production halted for the duration of the war. Imagine in today’s world we are rationed to 20 gallons of gas a month or unable to procure meat or coffee. Or that you had to repair your own footwear because there was none to be bought? How did people survive? How did they get by? I will touch on these answers in next month’s article.

In the meantime, please follow all the guidelines of personal and social safety. Social distancing, masks, if necessary, isolating yourself if you do not feel well, these are all things we can do to protect ourselves, loved ones and our neighbors. And if you know anyone who needs a helping hand, reach out. If you are unable, contact me at the email below, and Post 86 will lend any support we can. And please, be safe!

Information: legionpost86@gmail.com.