We Need Each Other

by | Mar 31, 2020 | South District Webpage

My coin collection continues to work as a history book for me. I have worked through my pennies, mounting them in cardboard “flips”, and putting the pennies into my folder. I have consecutive years from 1899 to 2019. Now my attention has shifted to my nickels. I will have far fewer years represented in my nickel collection. I roughly have 1946 to 2020, though there are quite a few missing coins.

One of the things I know about myself is I can be particular about how I do things. For example, when I put gas in my car, I always add enough gas to get the pump to the nearest nickel. This is probably why it bothered me to start my nickel collection with 1946. I looked on-line to see how difficult it is to get a 1945 nickel. That is when I found 1945 nickels are called “war nickels”. My heart kind of froze with this discovery. Why were they called “war nickels”?

The war was World War II. WWII started in 1939, with the United States entering the war on December 7, 1941. The war ended in 1945. Nickel was a needed material for our war effort, so from 1942 to 1945 nickels were made from a copper-silver-manganese alloy. They remained the same size so they would work in vending machines.

During WWII it is estimated 70,000,000 to 85,000,000 people died world-wide. According to Wikipedia, 419,400 Americans died during the war. Being born 19 years after WWII ended, it always seemed like ancient history to me. As an adult, I realized how great of an impact the war had on people who lived through it. They were forever changed. This includes many people I have known and loved. For those of us who were born later, we inherited the changed world. It’s what we have always known. It’s easy for these dates not to be burned into our memories. For my nickel collection, I’ve decided it is appropriate to start with 1939.

There are other coins in my collection, however, which bring immediate reactions to me. My 2001 coins do this. For how many of us is September 11, 2001, burned into our memories? As the airliners crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, our country changed. Then the airliner crashed into the Pentagon. For how many of us did terrorism become especially real that day? We are almost 19 years later. For the children born this year, how will they view 9-11?

I’m now putting 2020 coins into my collection. As I write this article, we have not reached the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. How bad will it get? We just don’t know. I heard one top government official say if our country does everything right, we are likely looking at 100,000 to 200,000 deaths. How often do we do everything just right? This is a year that is exposing us to new realities and ways of living together. In an odd way, in our distancing from each other, I’m feeling a connection. I’m wondering how this pandemic might change our whole world. Is it possible this “common enemy” will bring us closer together?

What I do know is this pandemic will not last forever. I’m expecting, though, it’s going to get harder before it’s over. We need to help each other when we can and turn to God for strength. Even with physical distancing, this is not a journey we have to take alone. For those born in the future, this will be part of “ancient history”.  For those of us living through this time, we will be forever changed.

Your brother on the journey, Mark

Further thoughts: We need to keep in our prayers all of those on the front lines risking their health so the rest of society can receive necessary services. Part of how we can honor their sacrifices is for those of us who have the privilege to be able to stay home, to stay home. We also need to be sensitive to the needs of their families and do anything we can to help them.

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Author: Mark Conrad

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