In every war, no matter how long and exhausting, someone will be the last soldier to die. Charley Havlat in World War II. Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, but the fighting did not stop then. Although many German units were withdrawing, Allied troops fought the Nazi strongholds until VE Day, May 8.
Nine minutes after a ceasefire was negotiated and a few hours before Germany’s unconditional surrender, Private First Class Havlat of the 803rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, the eldest of six children, the son of Czech immigrants in Dorchester, Nebraska, his unit bragged to the boys about the sweet, round kolaches their mother liked to bake, was shot by a sniper on a dirt road in his parents’ native Czechoslovakia. He was 34 years old. How it got there is a story someone should write a book about. Charley and his brother Rudy landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The 803 advanced through northern France, to Saint-Lô, Aachen and the Hürtgen forest and the Ardennes forest, joining some of the fighting. bloodiest of the war, including the Battle of the Bulge. . Charley was on a reconnaissance mission in a Jeep discovered outside the Czech town of Volary when the team was ambushed by heavily armed German troops, who fired from behind a clump of trees. Neither American nor German soldiers had heard of the ceasefire. So who will be the last New Yorker lost in the city’s pitched battle with COVID-19? And when will be that? We know who was the first. She was an 82-year-old woman with a pre-existing respiratory disease, emphysema. On March 3 of last year, she was admitted to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, forever ago in the city’s war on coronavirus. He was having trouble breathing when he arrived at the hospital and was in critical condition. They put her on a fan and she never unplugged it. He died in the hospital on the night of Friday, March 13. “They did everything they could to support and help her,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said that Saturday morning, thanking the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff. “Our hearts go out to his family.” In New York City, 138 people had tested positive for the coronavirus by then, 421 statewide. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, 2,175 cases were confirmed nationwide. Forty-seven people had died. And when Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote on his TWTR Twitter account, + 0.31% that he was “saddened to report” the 82-year-old woman’s death, the first person to respond was a Twitter user whose first name was Doreen. “By the way, this is being promoted by MSM, you would think the death toll would be over 5000,” he wrote, using the initials of the mainstream media. Wait, Doreen. You didn’t mention a hometown, so maybe you didn’t yet know how New York was already a coronavirus hot spot or how severely people were beginning to suffer. He couldn’t have known that just a year later, the death toll from COVID across the country would have surpassed, not 5,000, but 553,000 people, because no one had a clue back then. And as for Charley Havlat from COVID, sadly, we have yet to meet that patient. And your estimated time of arrival remains unknown. When another week of plague came to an end, every optimistic sign was still met with an argument for pessimism. Laughter is back in the city’s comedy clubs after a year of sullen silence. Broadway is still dark, but smaller theaters and concert halls are reopening. The state quarantine of domestic travel has finally been lifted. So no more closures than 14 days after landing at JFK, La Guardia or Newark airports. And most important of all, four million people have been vaccinated in all five boroughs. And yet the numbers of positive tests are suddenly rising again. Hospitalizations have also increased. The improvements of the last few weeks have stalled and new variants are circulating. “Since we are in the middle of March Madness, let me try to put it this way,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi at City Hall. “You don’t stop playing defense until the last bell rings.” Any death in any war is a tragedy. But folly is undoubtedly magnified when peace is so close. So who will be the last to die in this one? Like Charley Havlat’s battalion in the Czech countryside, we have already made tremendous strides. But danger could still lurk behind the next tree. Read Next: New York City High School Teachers Face the Challenges of Returning to In-Person Learning