At times like this, facing the unknown and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, we recall another time in history when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave the nation words of optimism and comfort.

It was another time of fear and panic when Roosevelt gave his historical "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself" speech. The occasion was his first inaugural address in 1933 in the wake of the stock market crash.

“I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels.

“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today.

“This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

How do we move forward in the face of grim days ahead? We make choices. We can cower in fear, or we can put our best face forward and show what we believe is the attribute that makes our community a great one in which to live.

First choice is for each of us to recognize social media for what it is and, instead of putting stock in everything one reads there, listen to those we have entrusted. Dr. Anthony Fauci is giving us good information and good advice. Take heed.

County Mayor Allen Foster and Crossville Mayor James Mayberry have information we are not privileged to, with reason, and we should listen to them and heed their warnings while accepting their advice.

Another choice, being observed by many but ignored by many more, is stay home unless your job is essential. There is no question as to how COVID-19 spreads. It is selfish and makes no sense to go out in large groups.

Look at the demographics on the age groups in Tennessee who have contracted the virus and see which ages are listening and which ones think it can't happen to them.  

An important choice is to keep check on your neighbors and the elderly. Many are veterans, proud men and women living in fear but too proud to ask for help. Don't ask of what they need. Tell them you are going out and what can you get them?   Maybe something as simple as picking up an extra sandwich when buying takeout for the family. Maybe it is knowing someone cares.

In the same sense, if you see an elderly person in line at the grocery checkout, let them move ahead. They just want to purchase what they have to have and get out of there.

We can choose to remember our service industry workers — of which Cumberland County has many — who are suffering through cutbacks and loss of jobs. Again, a jug of milk and carton of eggs can go a long way for a family who has lost their means to buy for themselves.

While attention is being given to supporting restaurants who offer curb service, take out and delivery, as it should be, don’t forget the small business owners.  

Wash your hands. Something as deadly as COVID-19 can be killed by sanitizer, soap or wipes and sprays. If you can't find these, dish-washing liquid like Dawn is said to kill the virus on contact. Do what your mothers always told you to do — wash your hands and keep your fingers out of your mouth.

Cumberland Countians have always shown a resilience and a caring heart. Now is not the time to shrink from care and compassion. It is time to come up with creative ideas on how to move forward from this day.

Lastly, hoarders have broken the supply chain. Stop. Give the chain time to catch up. The nation's food supply is intact as is the supply of dry goods. One way local merchants and box stores can slow this down is to simply post that returns of toilet paper, paper towels, rice, sanitizers. gloves, etc. will not be accepted. No buying back once this passes.

As Roosevelt said in his last sentence that day, "In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come."

We have always rose to the occasion, and the Chronicle is confident we will again. It is why we are Cumberland Proud.

Indeed, may He guide all of hearts for the common good and lets get through this challenge as a community.