DeKalb County, Georgia — The month was March, and the year was 2020. Many people were preparing for warmer weather and summer vacations. College seniors were preparing for graduation; do I wear the blue tie or the black tie, do I wear the heels or flats. Conversations were “normal.” A word that would seem distant as the days on the calendar flipped. However, during our “normalcy” that included parents picking up their children in carpool lines or meeting them at bus stops, in the middle of rush hour traffic, or just doing whatever you would do on a normal day something changed. That change would come on March 13, 2020, when the nation’s then Commander in Chief, Donald J. Trump declared the U.S. to be in a state of national emergency because of the global pandemic; COVID-19. Following that announcement, we saw a run-on grocery stores, shelves were emptied in days, and toilet tissue was scarce. Hand sanitizer gone – as soon as it was delivered to stores, it was gone. Gas was also another hot commodity. But for those who were struggling before the pandemic, this unfamiliar environment created more stress and uncertainty, as offices for social services and programs would soon close. In the coming weeks, some people would have to make tough decision on whether to pay rent or supply the necessities for their family.
Regardless, of the situation war natural disaster, or pandemic, when crisis strikes Americans have always responded with kindness, revealing the hero inside all of us. This level of kindness was displayed following the horrific events of 9/11, when we saw first responders pack up and leave their families to aide in recovery and rescue missions; we saw churches and businesses loading semi-tractor trailers full of supplies to be sent to the area. Following Hurricane Katrina, we saw every day citizens jump into action by becoming swift water rescuers, we saw people from all corners of this country travel to New Orleans, to become roadside cooks, laundry attendant and even some who were there just to offer a prayer and a hug.
Following the announcement that the U.S. was declared to be in the state of a National Emergency proved to be no different – Residents in the U.S. stepped up and showed neighborly love. Neighbors cooked meals for the needy, churches hosted food drives, counties distributed mask and hand sanitizers. When perils call, American residents answer. This outpouring of support that we have seen is a true testament to the grit and nature of who we are as a nation. Although news headlines may seem dark and discouraging at times, this country will not allow those moments to overshadow the good that still lives in every small town, city and state that collectively makes up the United States of America, where neighbors help neighbors.