These are the times that try men’s souls. — Thomas Paine

Every generation has a moment or an event that is not only unforgettable but impacts them for the rest of their lives.

The Greatest Generation had the Great Depression and World War II. My father-in-law, Lewis Abe, used to tell accounts of preparing for finals in college when Pearl Harbor was bombed and subsequently being sent home, being in camp at Heart Mountain, and serving as a member of the occupation force in post-war Germany.

My friend Connie recounts the coupons and rationing during the war. (By the way, toilet paper was not hoarded back then.)

Speaking for Baby Boomers, our defining event was President Kennedy’s assassination. Nov. 22 always has a special meaning for me. I remember being in Mrs. Threadgill’s 4th grade class. Around 10:00 in the morning, Mrs. Mueller, the principal, came in with the news. We then watched as Walter Cronkite reported on the shocking event. It marked the beginning of the turbulent ’60s and a second American revolution in our country.

I think for millennials, 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2007-08 may be defining events for their generation.

The coronavirus pandemic will the defining event for Gen Z and Gen Alpha or those born after 1995. They will be telling their kids and grandkids about these times of wearing masks, distancing 6 feet, and sheltering in place with schools, businesses and churches closed.

Who would have known just two months again that we would live in a completely different society? The last two months seem like forever. We are glued to our TV sets for the latest COVID-19 updates and the mounting death toll is depressing to say the least.

Not to downplay the seriousness of the current pandemic, but sheltering in place has given us the opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons.

It’s a chance accomplish a few tasks that would not get done otherwise. Staying at home means an opportunity to clean up our clutter that may include a closet, a kitchen drawer, or even the garage!

I had a chance last week to sort and organize the thousands of photos on my computer. My desk hasn’t look this clean in a long time and I kind of know where I have put things. So now I have organized junk!

Spare time has also allowed us to binge-watch TV. How many of us have watched the “Tiger King” documentary on Netflix? It is a strange story for strange times. Sunday we all watched together “The Last Dance” on ESPN. That documentary will cement Michael Jordan as the GOAT basketball player. LeBron who?

How many of us are pulling weeds, trimming plants, and planting vegetable gardens in our backyards? We will have summer tomatoes and zucchini and better-looking gardens at the end of this shelter-in-place order.

You may notice from social media that a lot of us are cooking more. It seems that we have a lot of great cooks out in the confines of the World Wide Web. Since many of us now have time, dinners have become a production.

One of my students is posting on Facebook a step-by-step account of what he cooks for dinner each night! I told him he should have a show on The Food Channel! I wish he had curbside pick-up or delivery because what he is making sure looks good.

I believe that as we approach the sixth week of isolation in our abodes, our youth have greater appreciation for their teachers and being able to go to school each day. For many parents, it has been a struggle to homeschool but it has also been an opportunity to actually spend quality time with their kids.

Speaking as a teacher, I think this gives some parents the opportunity to see some of the academic areas that their kids need to work on.

Parents are not driving their kids here and there. The basketball, baseball, soccer games and practices are on hold, as are ballet, piano, and tennis lessons. So even our kids are able to slow down and smell the roses.

With the reduced driving, the air quality has been so good in L.A. There are beautiful views to behold. Since the lock-down, there are estimates that California alone has saved over a billion dollars in crash-related costs.

On a personal note, I have had time to start writing for **The Rafu Shimpo** again. I’ve had the opportunity to write a few columns on topics that I kept putting off and this has been good therapy for me during this shelter-in-place order.

For others, this has been an opportunity to strengthen one’s faith and relationship with God. The blessing of portals like Zoom allows us to continue to worship together. This is also an opportunity to appreciate the blessings that the Good Lord has given us.

Finally, we all hunger for a return to normalcy. The other day I noticed that the roses in our backyard are blooming. God’s creations are not affected by COVID-19. Nature has a way of reminding us that it is bigger than us human beings.

So, take this opportunity to stop and smell the roses…and make some lemonade!


Bill Yee is a retired Alhambra High School history teacher. He can be reached at Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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