Doubtless most people are familiar with Mike Lindell of MyPillow fame. (And yes, full disclosure, I am happily possessed of two of the famous pillows and the MyPillow Giza Dreams bed sheets!) He is also the author of What Are the Odds? From Crack Addict to CEO.
Probably fewer are familiar with Erik Gainor. Mr. Gainor, not a fan of President Trump’s, regularly (or so it seems) comes on my Facebook page to troll me. Fair enough. Free speech is free speech.
But this week of all weeks is a moment to salute both men — and so many more people — as exemplars of the American spirit. Why?
Mike, with whom I’ve crossed brief paths at various political events, has announced that he is redirecting 75 percent of MyPillow’s production to manufacture face masks for health-care workers, as reported here by Fox News. “We have capacity to make a lot of things at big rates and we’re going to be going hopefully from 10,000 units a day to 50,000 units a day in a very short period of time,” Mike told the Fox affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Mike knows the president and worked with the administration to get the specifics required for the masks and is off and running.
Mr. Gainor, who has been the CEO of Zeustra, which describes itself as “a leading advisory firm with a focus on healthcare real estate throughout the United States,” recently announced that he was making a $50,000 donation to help fight the virus.
In fact, the two men are the very embodiment of what has long been known as the American spirit. Entrepreneurs both, when the country and their fellow Americans have hit a very difficult situation, the two have stepped up in their own fashion to, in this case, fight the coronavirus.
They are not alone, either. Famous and unknown, all manner of Americans have responded to this crisis in their own ways.
Singer James Taylor and his wife have donated a million dollars to Massachusetts General Hospital. Actress Angelina Jolie gave a million to No Kid Hungry, reported here by Yahoo! News as designed “to help fund the charity’s efforts to provide free meals to children from low-income families during school closures.” From the world of makeup, Kylie Jenner is kicking in a million to help first responders. Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced his company is donating 10 million protective face masks to the cause. And Apple is far from alone; the list of companies jumping into this fight also includes Walmart, Walgreens, Google, Tesla, Microsoft, Fruit of the Loom, and so many more.
This doesn’t even touch all the not-famous Americans who are pitching in by delivering meals to seniors, giving blood, or providing support for health-care workers. The CBS affiliate in St. Paul reports that Kristin Chu, “a second year med student at the University of Minnesota,” has, with several classmates, “started Minnesota Covid Sitters. The group now has more than 200 volunteers who do everything from babysit to run errands for medical professionals who can’t be at home. Chu said they’ve already connected with around 170 families.”
The New York Times has reported this:
Last week, the UJA-Federation of New York (United Jewish Federation) canceled a dinner gala in Westchester hours before it was to take place. The food had already been paid for, so the organization asked its caterer if it could be boxed up and delivered to people quarantined in Westchester, where many of New York’s cases are linked. The caterer agreed.
The food was delivered via a method that could be described as a ding-dong-dash. Recipients were notified in advance that a delivery was on its way. Volunteers walked up to the door, rang the bell and left a bag of the packaged food on the door handle or porch.
Then, the delivery volunteer left before the recipient opened the door.
Business Today reports this:
Several eminent Indian-American groups in the US have set up helplines and deployed volunteers to help community members, including a large number of Indian students, hit by the coronavirus crisis.
These are but a drop in the bucket of stories out there about Americans of all stripes, all nationalities, incomes — famous and unknown — instinctively rushing to rally and help their fellow Americans.
Writing in the Washington Post in 2016, Reagan biographer and historian Craig Shirley, writing with his research assistant Scott Mauer, said this of America in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941:
After the initial shock, though, Americans went to work. They had a cause.
President Roosevelt declared war on Japan on Dec. 8 before a joint session of Congress. Senators and representatives who — no more than 48 hours earlier — were champions of isolationism and critics of FDR were now in full support of war. “There is no politics here. There is only one party when it comes to the integrity and honor of this country,” said House Minority Leader Joseph Martin. [1940 GOP presidential nominee Wendell] Willkie, who ran against Roosevelt the year before, said, “I have not the slightest doubt as to what a united America should and will do.” …
Food and gas rationing, victory gardens, Civil Defense volunteers, scrap metal drives, paper drives, rubber drives — all these stood as tangible evidence of the unity of Americans in the days after Pearl Harbor.
Revenue from war bonds bought from every walk of life were flowing in, and donations for the war effort were staking up. Bonds were a popular Christmas gift, selling from $25 to $1,000 apiece. One man, too old to fight, donated $25 for the effort; another woman sent simply $5. A senior class at Baird High School in Texas used $37.50 planned for their class picnic to buy bonds instead. A man in Manhattan, George Herman Ruth Jr., wanted to buy $100,000 worth of war bonds — he was told that the maximum was $50,000, so he bought half in December 1941 and half in January 1942. (You may know him better by his nickname, Babe.) Archbishop Francis Joseph Spellman of New York donated $1,000 to the Red Cross, and even gave “one pint of ecclesiastical blood,” as Time magazine reported….
In the next four years, the United States was united against the Axis. The next several years saw the defeat of two empires and the rise of the United States as a global superpower. That is how unity works. That is how a surprise attack on a small island nearly 3,000 miles away from continental land changed the very fabric and very culture of a country. Before that fateful day, many people on the mainland would have had trouble identifying where Pearl Harbor was. It was a place of no real importance to the everyday American in Kansas or New York. After Dec. 7, it had the entire country march hand-in-hand into battle and into victory.
The coronavirus is not the attack on Pearl Harbor. But it has the potential to be, in one sense, even worse. While young Americans were quickly drafted or volunteered and were sent off to fight Hitler in Europe and the Japanese in the Pacific, the American homeland was untouched. This time around, no such luck.
Today, every single American is at risk. Yes, the senior population is at the top of the risk list, but as has been made perfectly plain by Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, millennials and other younger people are also vulnerable. In fact, the China Center for Disease Control reports that the “vast majority of cases in China — 87% — were in people ages 30 to 79.”
Amidst the turmoil, the American people are responding. From Mike Lindell and Erik Gainor and on and on and on, from Hollywood celebrities to college students and all manner of average Americans in between, the essence of the American spirit has been awakened.
In the movie of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is portrayed as musing warily, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Whether he actually said it is debated, but that the sleeping giant that was America was in fact awakened there was no doubt.
Suffice to say, that when it comes to this extraordinary crisis of a virus impacting every aspect of American life, the sleeping giant of America is awake again.