James Burns: My name is Victory
My name is Victory, I stand strong and tall. My name is Victory, I represent us all.
To some I am but wood, the Y-shaped remnants of a tree in my owner’s yard which resembles a man with his arms thrust upward in triumph.
Thus the name of Victory was bestowed upon me as a symbol of America’s strength, endurance and excellence.
When my country calls on me in time of need, I answer the call — for my name is Victory. Over many decades, dating back to a revolt against a king, with Minute Men and a ragtag army under General Washington, I helped my people rout the British. We then established our credentials in the world community. My name is Victory.
Just several decades later, my country called me once again, for a smaller skirmish against the British — the White House burned but Dolly saved her wig. And then there was a dustup, a small war against Mexico in which we lost lads brave and strong, at a place called the Alamo. But I made sure that my name remained Victory.
We divided ourselves to wage a Civil War, but back together we came, a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that we’re all created equal and free. I am flexible, meeting our needs on many fronts. Some of the wars I’ve waged were against exploitation of labor and racial and gender inequality.
And just as my brethren of the forest come clad in many hues and colors, I helped extend our nation’s rights and resources to people of all colors and preferences, blending us into a rainbow of beauty while unleashing talents in art, industry, education sports and other fields.
For my name is Victory, and I represent us all.
Now once again my nation has called on me, this time to wage war against a virus, Corona or COVID-19 by name. Being on the battleground of health is nothing new to me, for I have always fought against human misery, from scarlet fever to polio, malaria, and dysentery, poverty and hunger, too. But through it all, my name’s remained Victory.
In this current fight, I have many partners as well as patients. By field, their titles are nurses, clerks, cooks and custodians, doctors, policemen, plumbers, truck drivers and teachers, too. And just as I once wore leaves, they may be dressed in gloves, gowns, masks and shields. While my name is Victory, their names are Joe, Ruth, Miguel, Sarah, Sadie, Maria, Jose, Bill, Bob, Chan and Abraham. And they celebrate victories of life.
Stay with me on this battlefield, stand strong, straight and tall, so that soon we all can shout, “Our name is Victory, we represent us all.” And though I be but wood, I will join with you in singing “God Bless America” and “America, the Beautiful”—for God has truly exalted us, from sea to shining sea, and crowned our good in brotherhood and liberty — and generally good health.
The lesson we’re learning is that health is indeed more valuable than wealth. May God continue to bless America as we respect new rules for assembling in groups. We can still be tight —while also being right.
James F. Burns is an Ohio native and retired professor at the university of Florida.