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Letter: With pandemic’s end in sight, a word of warning from the last moments of WWI

Graves are silhouetted at the cemetery by the Ossuary of Douaumont near Verdun, northeastern France, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 during ceremonies marking the centenary of World War I. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

We’ve survived the pandemic for an entire year and the end is in sight. Roughly a third of us have had at least one vaccination and you’ve got to figure that another sizeable portion of us have had the virus and have some semblance of immunity. So maybe in a month we reach the magic herd immunity and life begins to return to normal. Whatever we’ve done for the last year has kept most of us safe. Some of us who are responsible for employees or willing to follow trusted guidance, have distanced, masked up and limited our social gatherings. So, ponder the terrible irony of those that will fall ill and perhaps die in the next month.

It reminds me of a bit of history that I read years ago. World War I ended with an armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at 5:45 in the morning on 11 November 1918. The generals all decided that it wouldn’t go into effect until 11:00 that morning. They appreciated the optics of an agreement ending hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It seems an insignificant point in retrospect. During the next 5 hours and 15 minutes, both sides incurred 10,944 casualties and 2738 deaths. The last American to die was Henry Gunther, who charged a German position a minute before the Armistice was to take effect, much to the astonishment of the Germans who knew the end of hostilities was just seconds away.

We’re mere months away from some return to normalcy. You know what to do. Don’t let this be your Henry Gunther moment.

Jeff Carleton, Salt Lake City

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