Two iconic lions, tirelessly, dutifully and eternally, guard the entrance to New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, in New York City. These marbleized statues, sculptured on May 23rd, 1911, one hundred years ago, familiar to City residents and visitors, were named, “Patience” and Fortitude, (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s phrase) by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, during America’s Great Depression, in the 1930s; constituting, the then Mayor said, the qualities, America needed, to get through that very challenging period.
Today, we give homage and special recognition to these familiar stone beasts, not alone because it is their centennial birthday, but, additionally, because their spirit of Patience and Fortitude, are again called upon, at an extremely challenging time; perhaps the most challenging, since the Second World War; the invasion of an unprecedented, lethal enemy, Coronavirus (COVID-19). The celebrity lions are now witness to a world pandemic, in which, as of this writing the known statistics are fearful. The total cases: 1,342, 821, deaths: 80,123, recovered: 232,232,73. The virus, COVID-19, apparently, is a new strain of Coronavirus, that has never, previously, been identified in humans, was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Provence, China. Our cursory research indicates, that the class, Coronavirus includes a large group of viruses, that have the varying potential to cause illness, from the common cold to more serious diseases, including, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (“SARS”).
To amplify the lions’ empathically painful roar of dismay, and tragic disbelief is the Trump Administration’s ignorant, irresponsible, and complete, unpreparedness, for this virulent holocaust. The roar is amplified, even further, in learning of Trump’s, foolhardy dismissal, soon after taking office, of a foresighted, Obama entity, led by a Navy Admiral ranked, Doctor, and composed of experts, charged with the existential watchdog responsibility, to act as a monitor of disease outbreak, anywhere on the globe. By reason of the ignorance and egotism of Donald Trump (ever, a lethal combination), America was caught, completely, by surprise, and was unprepared to meet this virulent outbreak (now a “pandemic”). A great deal of precious time was, additionally, wasted by Trump’s, initial, petulant denial of the outbreak, followed by his public diminution of its importance (“it is like another, regular flu”), and later of his incomprehensible, utterance of gross misinformation.
The Nation is in quarantine, sporting protective masks and gloves, the economy is tanking, preventative masks and gloves are in short supply, hospitals are overcrowded, significant and necessary testing, is significantly challenged due to the dearth of testing kits, the unemployment figures are greatly increased, small businesses are on their last legs, the country is in a state of fear of disease and death. Still that travesty, tragically, cloaked with Presidential Authority, is downplaying the disease, by recommending the opening of business, despite the urgent requests of the scientific and medical world, that people remain in quarantine and separated. As worrisome as the presenting pandemic may, in fact, be, we have always posted the advice that the combination of ignorance and egotistic, unsupported confidence is eternally, lethal. Trump makes this dogmatic statement, inarguable.
While the Nation waits, impatiently (but hopefully), for the ultimate development of an effective vaccine, it bears its apprehensions and discomforts, with patience and fortitude, thanks to the support of the two, iconic, library lions, who have been witness to America’s ultimate triumph, through patience and fortitude, over many challenges.