“Unprecedented” may go down as the most overused word of 2020, referring to the fallout from the pandemic. Yet, periodic challenges are as routine as thunderstorms boiling up suddenly in a blue summer sky.
Many of us have had to cancel or defer trips and other events due to the COVID-19 shutdown. The Wall Street Journal, 5/11/20, covered stresses in aviation. One of South America’s largest airlines, Avianca, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Virgin brand airlines are struggling, as is Richard Branson’s new cruise venture, Virgin Voyages. The paper noted strains impacting Dubai-based Emirates Group, as a decades-long boom in traffic through Gulf States hubs has grounded to a halt. Doha-based Qatar Airways has suspended flights from Atlanta to and though Doha.
My travel agent has been swamped with requests for cancellations and re-scheduling for more than a year out, as travelers who don’t want to lose deposits hope for a vaccine breakthrough. Emirates Airline executives said it may take 18 months for traffic to recover. That may be optimistic. It took more than three years for air traffic to reach previous levels following the 9/11 shock.
President Trump calls the battle against the “invisible enemy” a war. Recently, PBS has been running films about W.W. II, as well as a phenomenal six-part series about the conflict, “World On Fire.” The German invasion of Poland was portrayed in graphic and disturbing fashion. Seventy-five years ago on May 8, 1945, World War II in Europe ended. Japan surrendered Aug. 14, 1945.
One of my favorite small group tour operators is Tauck Tours, headquartered in Wilton, Conn. A family company, the firm was founded in 1925 by Arthur Tauck, Sr., a traveling salesmen who brought six paying guests along on one of his trips through New England and Canada. In 1935, Tauck was the first tour operator to be granted a federal Tour Broker’s License.
His son, Arthur Tauck, Jr., is Tauck’s chairman of the board. Dan Mahar, CEO of Tauck and Arthur Tauck, Jr’s son-in-law, recently sent out a copy of a message Arthur Tauck, Sr. posted to clients dated May 14, 1942. (It was sent on a 1 cent postal card which today costs 35 cents. Inflation!) With permission, it’s reprinted here to remind us that as a country we’ve faced and overcome tough times before.
“Tauck Tours, Inc., in keeping with the national war effort, have suspended all operations during the rubber and gasoline emergency. Pleasure travel at this time is being discouraged by our Government because of the strain upon all transportation facilities.”
“The best short circle tours we can recommend to you are frequent trips to your nearest bank or post office to purchase war bonds and stamps — for the sooner we stamp out the Axis, the sooner we’ll be able to stamp your name on a Tauck Tour ticket. As old friends, who have enjoyed your interest and enthusiasm in the past, we just want to say ‘Au Revoir,’ but not goodbye.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affair estimated as of September 30, 2019, of the 16 million Americans who served in W.W. II, only 389,292 are still alive to remember the challenges of that terrible conflict. Surviving veterans, and those born in the mid-to-late 1930s who grew up watching Movietone war newsreels in the local theater and tending Victory Gardens to raise food, still have memories of the sacrifices made. We prevailed as a country and went on to recover and to help rebuild a ravaged world.
We will recover from the pandemic crisis with lessons learned, solutions mastered, creativity stimulated, reinvention as the mother of necessity, and new energy. We always have.
Roger Crawford is an award winning USTA professional tennis player who also played a Division One college sport with a severe disability. With fierce ability to overcome, Roger today is an author and motivational speaker. Says he, “Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”
Words to live by.