I would like to thank former President Trump, and those who worked under him, for their efforts in establishing Operation Warp Speed. They are to be commended for making safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines available in a remarkably short period of time.
I would also like to thank President Biden, and those who work under him, for their efforts in accelerating the delivery and administration of the vaccines. They have met and surpassed their goals, and have made it possible for all Americans (16 and older) to get the vaccine far ahead of schedule.
See how easy that was? I have taken the politics out of what should have always been a non-political conversation. You can argue about who is responsible for the pandemic, what went wrong, and whether Dr. Anthony Fauci is a hero or a villain. You can debate masks, shutdowns, and stimulus checks. You can spread conspiracy theories about how Bill Gates is behind all this, how the government is trying to change your DNA, or that story you saw on your friend’s Facebook page about how her second cousin heard at the beauty shop that the vaccine made someone grow a 6th toe.
In this era of misinformation, many people believe what they want to believe and nothing more. So why should I, as a member of “the evil mainstream media,” try to convince anyone to get the vaccine? In terms of trustworthiness, some people rate journalists between crack dealers and hubcap thieves. All I can do is tell my story.
When I was 12, my dad bought me a motorcycle. I had barely learned how to ride a bicycle, and suddenly I was given access to a powerful machine that could propel me into a brick wall at 80 miles per hour. Why? I think my dad gave in to my pleas to let me be one of the cool kids, or he may have wanted to toughen me up, in the spirit of Johnny Cash’s dad in “A Boy Named Sue.”
Sure enough, I soon became King of the Road, in my own mind. I had mastered the art of navigating the back roads and main highways of Bryant, Alabama. I used to see some of the older boys whiz by with no helmets, hair blowing in the breeze. I saw that in movies too. Common sense told me that wasn’t a good idea, but I did it a few times when my dad couldn’t see me.
A few months into my motorcycle era, after successfully dodging a few dogs and potholes, I encountered an adversary that would take me down. I rode into a hard-to-see patch of loose gravel, sending my bike into a spin, landing me on the ground. My bike got scratched up a bit, but I took most of the damage. I have scars on my knee, stomach and arm, still visible fifty years later. Thankfully, I did have a helmet on, and it got scratched up too. Lesson learned.
To this day, I see and hear from motorcyclists who feel helmet laws are unnecessary and restrictive. Talk to the hand.
When I began driving a car, I did not use a seat belt for many years. My adult children are probably horrified to read this, because they have never lived in a world without seat belts. But seat belts were rarely installed in cars until 1968, and it was 1984 before the first state (New York) made wearing seat belts mandatory.
During my childhood and teen years, seat belts were not “a thing,” and if your parents didn’t wear them, neither did you.
I finally came around in 1984, after singer Barbara Mandrell was seriously injured in a car accident. At first, she was thought to be dead at the scene. Her two children were also hurt, and the driver of another vehicle lost his life.
She says she had routinely shunned seat belts. “I thought they were restrictive and bulky,” she said. But one of her sisters had encouraged her to start buckling up, and on that particular day, she had done so, and told her children to do the same. “Had we not,” she said, “we would have all been dead.”
That was all I needed to hear. I have buckled up ever since. I wanted to live a long life, and seat belts would give me a better chance of doing that. So far, so good.
Vaccines are also life savers. The proof is in the numbers, not in the rumor mill. Elvis Presley got his polio vaccine in 1956, and suddenly it was the “cool” thing to do. We don’t have an Elvis, although the Trumps and Bidens, who disagree on everything, all got their shots. I hope you will too, for the health of your loved ones.