We are all now being impacted by the COVID-19 virus, some much more than others.
At the top of the list are those who have been sickened, followed closely by those who will become infected. They are followed by individuals who must live under quarantine as a precaution.
But then there are the rest—people who have been laid off or furloughed, business owners who have had to shut down, and then people whose lives have been altered in some way because of events beyond their control.
Everyone is adjusting and coming to terms with some level of sacrifice. That’s not easy, but it’s also worth remembering a time in this country when the sacrifices were much greater.
From 1941 to 1945, those who had it roughest were the soldiers, airmen and sailors who did the fighting in World War II. However, Americans behind on the home front carried their weight as well.
The Roosevelt administration instituted food rationing. Americans were given ration cards and assigned points that they used at the market. The point system limited sales of meat, sugar, coffee, butter, and various canned goods including soup and vegetables.
People often stood in long lines to get their ration cards. There was plenty of grumbling about the system and a black market flourished, but for the most part people just dealt with it.
Millions of Americans adjusted by digging up their yards and planting vegetables. It’s estimated that forty percent of all vegetables produced during the war came from these “Victory Gardens.”
Hardware was also rationed. Tires, gasoline and oil were limited. Manufacturers switched from consumer goods to equipment and products necessary for the war effort.
The country was also asked to support the war by purchasing U.S. Government Defense Savings Bonds or “War Bonds.” The bonds served a dual purpose; they raised money to pay for the war and gave Americans who bought the bonds a greater sense of supporting the war effort.
Funds for the war also came from higher income taxes. In 1942, the tax rate on income above $200,000 was 88 percent. Additionally, the percent of Americans subject to the income tax doubled during the war.
The National Park Service’s history of WWII rationing said, “Americans learned, as they did during the Great Depression, to do without. Sacrificing certain items during the war became the norm for most Americans. It was considered a common good for the war effort and it affected every American household.
No, we are not at war and this pandemic, as bad as it is, will pale in comparison to the death, destruction and deprivation of WWII. However, it is evident that in order for this country to repel COVID-19 with the least damage, we need a collective effort that will require some sacrifice.