My father served in the European Theater during WWII. His plane went down during a mission, but he successfully bailed out of his doomed B17 Flying Fortress. He survived, but he was captured and held as a prisoner of war until the war in Europe ended.
My mother worked in a factory in Culver City, California during the war. She also gave birth to my older sister while my father was held in Stalag 4. For a time my mother did not know if my father was dead or alive, but she felt a great sense of relief coupled with fear, when she was notified of his status as a POW.
My parents, along with countless others, sacrificed greatly during this time of war. They heeded the call to serve, and they did so without hesitation. We have rightly dubbed their generation great.
Today, our enemy is sneaky, silent, and deadly for those who encounter it. Our best and brightest are working around the clock to decode its secrets and formulate plans to drive it into retreat. These medical generals are heroes in today’s war.
Many of us are being asked to serve our country by staying inside our homes. Others are being asked to serve on the front lines as doctors, nurses, medical staff, first responders, grocery store workers, and many other workers who have been deemed essential. We are being asked to sacrifice for our common good.
One of our many roles as classroom English teachers is to create engaging lessons for our students. We must continue to fuel their imaginations and foster their growth as readers, writers, and critical thinkers. And, we must accomplish these goals beyond the comfort of our physical classrooms. The stories we read, and the poetry we explore, all reveal our shared human condition in its glory, triumph, and tragedy. We want students to understand the beauty, as well as the costs, of being alive on this planet. We want them to be aware and understand the gravity of this time in history. Sacrifice is once again a part of our collective reality.
But even as we sacrifice, we need to stay attuned to the many blessings that surround our daily lives. We live in a vibrant world filled with messages of hope and better times ahead. Tennyson reminds us that “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.”
The other day I went out for a run. I came across a field of Texas bluebonnets. I stopped and took in their simple message. These roadside bluebonnets were blooming as they were created to do, and they will continue to serve their purpose in the years to come. Some year’s rain will be plentiful, and other year’s rain will be scarce, but the bluebonnets will do their best to bloom, reseed, and bloom again.
When Bluebonnets Bloom
Even during a pandemic, Texas bluebonnets bloom
in silent tribute to those who suffer,
for those who weep.
Even during a pandemic, Texas bluebonnets brave
the growing intensity of the Spring Sun,
sharing with those who struggle.
During a pandemic, Texas bluebonnets quietly pass
their seeds into the welcoming fields,
sowing hope for those who pray.
After a pandemic, Texas bluebonnets rise again
to greet those who embrace their message of grace,