Your Business


America Is Resilient

The coronavirus epidemic unquestionably ranks with the Great Depression and World War II as one of America’s most life-changing events in the past 100 years. It has dramatically affected our national economy as well as the outlook of many of our citizens.

Some things may never be the same, but we are learning from this experience, as we have also learned from previous crises, that Americans are amazingly resilient people. I know.

As a Depression baby and a kid growing up in the Washington, D.C. area during World War II, I’ve personally witnessed the courage of family and neighbors adjusting to adverse circumstances over which they had little control. We have done it before, and we will do it again.

During that war, I read every newspaper I delivered. When FDR talked to us through our living room Philco radio, I believed him. I bought war bonds with my paper route earnings, collected aluminum pans to be recycled for the war effort and weeded the victory garden.

Like the other kids, I wore a dog tag with my name and blood type on it in the event our school was bombed. We were accustomed to blackout curtains and air raid drills, so we didn’t dwell on them. Among our prized possessions—better than any toy in our estimation—were identification books that would enable us kids to identify silhouettes of airplanes flying overhead, both ours and those of the enemy.

We didn’t have many possessions, and we couldn’t go anywhere, but we got along fine anyway. We made our own toys and played old games, but once in a while we would ask our parents when things might change for the better. That’s when we heard their often-repeated response, “after the war.” We were certainly looking forward to that day, although even as children we knew that there was no guarantee in 1943 that we would win it.

One of the big differences between life during World War II and this current coronavirus crisis is that we were free to socialize. We met in churches, schools and neighborhoods, swapped stories, and helped each other make the best of a grave situation. Personal contact and social networks gave us strength. This epidemic hinders us from such mixing, but we can still connect with each other by telephone, text, Facebook and other means.

So what are we doing now? We have gotten to know our family members better—usually in a positive way. We have learned to cut our own hair and improve our cooking skills. We watch a lot of TV, homeschool our kids, play games, exercise, glue ourselves to smart phones and … complain. We wash our hands repeatedly. We leave our homes only when necessary and keep our “social distance” of six feet. And through it all, we are learning to adapt again.

Unexpected leaders and courageous first responders have emerged. Unnecessary government red tape has been temporarily pushed aside. The medical profession is developing new medications faster than ever before, and unrelated industries have voluntarily switched to making essential products to fight the epidemic.

We will come out of this crisis as a stronger, even more resilient America. I’m proud of what I see.

Jack Goodhue, management coach, may be contacted at

Related Topics

Business    Management