On the Wings of Morning: Staying Safe During the Pandemic
Dear Kent State University Students, Faculty and Staff,
The beginning of the spring semester has me thinking a lot about the book “Wings of Morning,” which was written by an acquaintance of mine and fellow historian, Tom Childers. In the book, Childers recounts the history of the last American bomber shot down over Germany during World War II.
Childers’ uncle was a crewman on that fateful flight. To their dying days, relatives of the deceased crewmen rued the downing of the plane so close to the end of the war. They could not free themselves from a constant and debilitating cycle of “what if,” questioning how if things had played out differently, their loved ones could have survived.
In their story, I see many parallels to where we are and what we will be facing in the coming months of the pandemic. We see the light at the end of the tunnel with effective vaccines on their way. Yet, I am tired, and I know you are tired. Like me, you probably daydream from time to time about how wonderful life will be when the pandemic ends. I miss interacting with relatives, dining with friends and not having to worry about contracting COVID-19, and I’m sure you do, too.
Unfortunately, we aren’t there yet. We are all still in midst of grave danger – as were the crewmen of that World War II bomber – even though the end of the war was quite near. The relatives of the downed crew received official notice of their loved ones’ deaths on the very day the war ended in Europe, May 8, 1945.
As we begin this new semester, I feel compelled to remind everyone that even as the end of this deadly pandemic draws near, it still poses a great danger to our health and we can’t let our guard down. We don’t want any of us to be the last individual who contracts COVID-19 before mass vaccination is completed.
We are in a cruel, yet hopeful, moment in time when all of us are in danger even though the end of the pandemic is near. With the expected post-holiday surge of infections and more contagious variants of the virus circulating globally, we are perhaps more likely to contract COVID-19 now than at any other point in the pandemic.
Now more than ever, we must practice the Flashes Safe Seven principles and comply with mandatory testing for residential students and sample testing for employees and off-campus students taking in-person courses.
Keep your guard up and continue to behave in ways that will limit the spread of the virus. Always wear a face covering. Avoid gatherings. Don’t be that last person to contract COVID-19 before vaccinations arrive. Don’t behave as though we are in the clear – we are far from it. Please continue to take care of one another and continue to practice patience and empathy as we confront this virus together.
Despite the circumstances, I know you will make this a great semester. The start of a new semester always carries with it the excitement of new learning and discovery, and the anticipation of getting closer to achieving your academic goals. I wish you all the best for much success.