Make a Difference

By Ken Taylor of Commercial Truck Training

It’s Thursday, April 9, 2020

On April 9th in 1865 Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Union Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

On April 9th in 1959 the first seven astronauts were selected for the space program. (61 years ago!)

On April 9th in 1942 75,000 Philippine and American defenders on Bataan surrendered to the Japanese troops and forced the prisoners into the “Bataan Death March” where thousands died or were killed in route to the prisoner of war camps.

On April 9th in 2003, Iraqis celebrated the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Today is “The Day to Make a Difference.” In times of crisis some of the greatest discoveries and inventions have been created.  Here are just a few:

  • Dr. Alexander Fleming was considered a slob. His laboratory was often in disarray. One day he walked into his lab and noticed a petri dish that had an out of control bacteria growth but when it reached one particular culture the bacteria died.  Out of the chaos, Penicillin was discovered.
  • In the 1950s thousands worldwide, mainly children, were being diagnosed with the crippling disease known as polio. Dr. Jonas Salk had a theory.  If he could isolate the virus that was causing polio, kill the virus and insert it into healthy individuals, it would create an immunity to the disease.  It worked and today the disease is almost unheard of in the world.
  • In the 1700s Smallpox was a worldwide pandemic. It was deadly and spreading relentlessly. Edward Jenner made a very unusual observation. Milkmaids who worked on farms and were exposed to cowpox were totally immune to smallpox! In 1796 Jenner created the first smallpox vaccinations. The disease was declared “eradicated” in the U.S. in 1972

Today we are faced with a coronavirus pandemic. It is crippling world economies and the news media is keeping us constantly informed of the number of infections and the number of deaths worldwide.

Now, as Paul Harvey would say “The rest of the story.”

  • People are volunteering to help those that are less fortunate and most vulnerable across the globe.
  • Famous entertainers are giving free performances from their homes via Skype, Zoom and You Tube.
  • People are donating billions of dollars to the less fortunate from elementary school kids to billionaires.
  • The news media is showing story after story of individuals such as nurses, doctors, truck drivers and law enforcement officers who are risking their own safety and well-being to help others.

The day to make a difference is expressed in a poem written in the 1500s by the English poet, John Donne:

No man is an island,

Entire of itself.

Each is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thine own

Or of thine friend’s were.

Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

Each of us is “In this together.” Reach out and make a difference. We will all be better by your efforts.

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