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First national mobilization in 75 years


Last updated 3/19/2020 at 9:18pm

If you were born after about 1938, you probably don’t have memories of our 1940 mobilization in preparation for World War II. Today’s mobilization to stop Covid-19 and that of the 1940 event draw or tapped different resources, but the overarching similarity is that they affect everyone in the USA and that there are limitations and requirements laid on persons and businesses.

The current mobilization imposes these rules on the basis of public health. In 1940, all labor, industry and raw materials were focused on preparing for war. Starting in 1940, the USA demonstrated to the world our plentiful resources and unparalleled logistical skills and focus.

It was all planned in great detail and ordered from the top down, and the mobilization continued until August 1945. At that point, we no longer needed our ration books to buy gasoline, tires, butter, shoes, sugar and meat.

Think of the Covid-19 mobilization as a preparation for war on pathogens. We haven’t had a domestic public health emergency like this since the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, not counting the cycles of later flu outbreaks.

Maybe it’s time we had a national emergency that requires moving as a team. We have seen a remarkable wave of initiatives carried out by people and governments from school districts to states that reflect the patriotic spirit of America.

John Watson


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