Voice of Asia salutes the nurses, doctors, EMTs, police, fire and other first responders who have become the bold line of defense against the Coronavirus.
The Coronavirus has crisscrossed a wide swath of this planet with little regard for gender, age, class or social status. It has become the common denominator of misery, fear, anxiety and death for millions. It has upended the economic and social order of countries across the board. In the midst of all this hopelessness, it is easy to lose heart. The constant drumbeat of negative stories of death, disease and financial ruin of millions is enough to numb the rest of us into silence. Yet, in the midst of this darkness there is a ray of light. This light is reflected in the selflessness of the nurses and doctors often working impossible 30-hour shifts, risking their own lives to save the lives of strangers.
Indian nurses make up a large sector of the nurses who are on the frontlines of this war against a disease that continues to ravage the country with unrelenting fierceness. Voice of Asia salutes these unlikely warriors. In saluting these nurses, we also salute nurses who came to the United States in the early 1970s.
Many who grew up in the digital age may not even remember President Lyndon Johnson, but it was President Johnson who signed into law the Immigration Act of 1965 that allowed non-European immigrants to come to the United States in record numbers for the first time. Among this wave of new immigrants was the first generation of Indian, Philippine and other Asian countries nurses. These nurses worked tirelessly to become a seamless part of American society, contributed to the care and nurturing of their own families and ushered in the next generation of nurses, the very ones who are at the frontlines of battling the Coronavirus today.
That small relaxation of the immigration law in 1965 helped thousands of nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and other health professionals from India to become an integral part of the fabric of the United States.
In 1965, neither President Johnson nor anyone else could have foreseen that in a little over 50 years, there would be a medical crisis of epic proportions, and that the sons and daughters of the first generation of nurses would be the ones in masks and gloves ready to help.
American writer Joseph Campbell once observed, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than themselves.”
If this observation is true, then the thousands of nurses and doctors, who continue to take care of their patients often at grave risk to themselves, are the uncelebrated, unnoticed and undervalued heroes of our time.
To each and every one of these unlikely heroes we say thank you. Our prayers, the prayers of the nation are with you
Koshy Thomas is the Publisher and CEO of Voice of Asia, weekly newspaper published in Houston, Texas. Voice of Asia is a leading, gratis community newspaper that has been in circulation for over 30 years.