“Events That Haunt Us Forever” Letter to the Editor

From Suzi Leonard of Etowah published on August 1 in the Mountain Xpress.

What’s the tragic event in your life that most haunts you? You’ll remember where you were, probably even feel yourself in that very air and taste the emotion that coursed through your body as you realized what was happening. You probably weren’t able to do anything about it, but if you could have, you would have.

Mine found me in a Shakespeare class at the University of Texas on Aug. 1, 1966. I was seated near the front of the room, away from the large bank of windows overlooking The Tower. Shots rang out. We were hostages under gunfire for the next hour and a half. There was nothing we could do but hide in the tiled halls of the windowless basement and wait. Someone had a radio tuned to the news. Reporters were reading names of the wounded and dead in real time as they were collected off the streets and sidewalks above us. Suddenly, Paul Bolton, the news director, stopped the listing and asked for the last name to be repeated. It was his 18-year-old grandson.

If any of us could have done anything to stop it, we would have.

Today, we’re living a lingering tragedy from a viral pathogen. There are things we can do to save ourselves and those around us.

Instead, on the Fourth of July, a trio of Republican candidates hosted a gathering of about 500 unmasked constituents to shake hands, hug, get up-close-and-personal, supporting Trump’s theory that 99% of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless.”

[As of July 23, the] U.S. death toll stands at more than 140,000.

The hosts of this party — Sen. Chuck Edwards, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and Madison Cawthorn — apparently echo their leader’s beliefs about the potency of COVID-19. If they’re this cavalier about the most virulent killer of our time, do you think they really care about things like equity in pay, racial disparities, public education, our environment or health care?

Don’t let this coronavirus haunt us more because we fail to do what we can to stop it. And for goodness sake, elect Democrats Brian Caskey to state Senate District 48, Roy Cooper to governor and Moe Davis to Congress in District 11. They’ll work with us to put safest practices in place so we don’t have to be haunted forever in memory of those we infected.

Mountain Xpress Editor’s note: Leonard reports that she has volunteered for Caskey, who is running against Edwards. Xpress contacted Cawthorn, Edwards and Forest with a summary of the letter writer’s points, but received no response for publication.

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