Column: False connections

Student gives insight with comparisons of national tragedies and the pandemic being made


Shae Daugherty

TRL’s Carlee George shares her thoughts on COVID-19 compared to other large-scale national and international disasters.

December 7, 1941. One moment everything was fine, but the next brought mass chaos. That morning, Japanese fighter planes launched an over two hour attack that sunk ships, destroyed planes, killing civilians and soldiers alike. Over 2,400 people were killed. In the following days, sailors had to listen to their fellow comrades, trapped under a sinking ship, bang the side of the hull in hopes of being rescued. They could do nothing to help them escape the watery grave. It was a methodical attack, planned out by enemy forces in advance. It was an act of war. 


September 11, 2001. It appeared to be a normal day, with New Yorkers carrying out their regular business. No one was expecting a terrorist attack. Nothing could prepare the nation for the news that at 8:45 a.m., a plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Hundreds were killed instantly, and many others were then trapped in the burning building. Further shock came at 9:02 a.m. when the south tower was also struck. It was evident that this was no freak accident. The historic day ended with nearly 3,000 deaths, including the passengers of the hijacked planes and those at the Pentagon. Little could be done except to watch as history unfolded. 

We were helpless.

Fast forward to today, where we are faced with the novel coronavirus. It has halted regular events and promoted the virtual era via social distancing. Earlier in April, the U.S. surgeon general, Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, said that the impending peak would be our Pearl Harbor and 9/11 moment. 

He is wrong.

Not only is it not true, I find it offensive to those who lost their lives in those catastrophic events. They were unparalleled happenstances that left the nation speechless. Nothing could be done to stop them from happening. We didn’t know that the Japanese were going to bomb us. We didn’t know that we were al Qaeda’s next target. We did know, however, that China was experiencing the coronavirus months before it ever came to America. There are preventative measures that the general populace can take to “flatten the curve.” Social distancing and Purell can halt a virus, not intentional violence. People wanted us to hurt on Pearl Harbor and 9/11. They spent time planning where and when to attack us. The virus has no face, no ulterior motives. 

I’m not saying that the coronavirus isn’t deadly or scary. No life is expendable. People are being killed and having to die alone in hospital beds. It’s a travesty, there’s no denying that, but for the innocent lives lost in the the two events that rattled the country; please stop comparing a virus to acts of war and terrorism. This is not our Pearl Harbor moment. This is not our 9/11. It is a pandemic that will run its course and disappear.