Throughout history, the peoples of our Earth have been tested. When tested with extreme measures, women and men either rise to the occasion and become heroes or they simply do not. This goes well beyond the most primitive and instinctual aspect of fight or flight. This is when horrific situations create valor and long-lasting aspiration, and this altercation is what changes people into something stronger than they were before.
Humans cannot help but compare situations. This is a measure of what we are, where we stand, and no matter how dismal the future looks, prosperity will always come back, just as the flowers of the Royal Poinciana and Frangipani will bloom on Marco, Goodland and the Isles of Capri.
When we compare our fears and worries over our world, our nation, and our home, there is a true story that comes to mind of one of the most resilient situations and people anywhere.
When Germany invaded Poland and the Second World War began, the rumors immediately started on what might happen to London and England, but after months of nothing happening, people began to relax. This was until September 7th, 1940, when 300 German bombers crossed the English Channel and began the first night of heavy bombing.
There was no trickle effect. One night there was peace and comfort and the next night the world began to shatter with the Blitzkrieg. The Blitzkrieg—Lightning War in German—was the first example of shock and awe warfare and it was meant to terrorize any enemy into complete submission.
Black Saturday began at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon and lasted until 5 o’clock the next morning—420 were killed in the first attack and 1600 gravely injured.
The Blitz, like everything else, began because of cause and effect. The German Bombers originally targeted oil depots in the London East End but hit a few houses by mistake. Afterward, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered a retaliatory bombing attack on Berlin. After this, Hitler unleased nightly attacks on London’s general population that would continue for 57 consecutive nights. They came at night because the German bombers were virtually invisible in the darkness to the English fighter pilots trying to defend their homeland.
At first, everyone was completely terrified. There was apparently little defense, the government could not stop the attacks, and so every night the bombing continued. Entire city blocks were leveled to rubble and the nightly firestorms that swept London are legendary.
At the beginning of the Blitz, the English government refused to allow the people of London to go into the underground shelters for fear they would never come out again. After a hoard of civilian outrage, the government relented and soon the shelters were packed every night with the terror of a world gone mad exploding above their heads.
After the Luftwaffe—the German Air Force—learned of the underground shelters, the Nazi’s began to drop larger and more devastating bombs that included firestorm incendiaries. After a month of continuous attacks, 250,000 Londoners were homeless, but the bombs kept falling every night.
The British Government, at the outbreak of the war, projected the death count to be over 2,000,000 from bombing attacks, but in the end, 22,000 were killed. Hitler believed the constant bombing of the citizens of England would pound them into submission, but the people of Great Britain did not lose their morale or their sense of humor.
Many believe the heroes of the Blitz were the extremely brave women and men of the English bomb disposal teams. Quite often, some of the falling bombs did not explode. Some of the bombs weighed five hundred pounds and would be waiting with delayed fuses and set to explode at minutes or even days after landing.
Can anyone imagine being sent to defuse a five hundred pound bomb that might explode any minute, and knowing while you were trying to dismantle something that could kill you, that every new bomb was constantly being changed and made trickier by an enemy that came every night—but an enemy no one could see? Many of the bomb disposal units would whistle while they worked to relive the tension. In the underground bomb shelters packed with everyone that could fit, there was singing, jokes, and sleight-of-hand magic tricks for the children.
There can be no doubt, that we too are living in a scary time, close to when English and American Bombers firebombed Dresden Germany and killed 25,000 in one day. 25,000 that were mainly women, children, and men that were too old or infirmed to fight any more battles. There was no war production or strategic targets in Dresden.
Spring came to Europe in 1944, along with the allied invasion in June that would herald the end for Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, and the terror of an era that will never be forgotten.
Spring will come for our time as well, and just as the men and women of the bomb disposal unit ran toward the unexploded bombs, our heroes are the brave men and women that are our health care professionals.
Our war is also against something we cannot see, but just as with the Blitz on London and other British and German cities and many more cities too numerous to name, one day it will be over and new heroes will be recognized.
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” ~ Winston Churchill