So here we are: It’s mid-February in Virginia, that time of year when the weather report should just be the shrug emoji and most of us are beyond ready for the warm embrace of spring. Tax time is looming and inflation is still hanging around. The State of the Union address was basically an episode of the Maury Povich show minus the paternity test reveals (at least that would have made it more interesting) and all of my well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions (“I’m going to keep a food journal!” “I’m going to start opening my mail!”) have completed their slow march to the dustbin.
In short, a feel good story would come in handy right about now.
Fortunately, the time I save by jettisoning New Year’s resolutions is time I am able to spend doing other things, like Googling what important events happened in history on certain days (a peculiar habit but one that comes in handy when trying to avoid keeping a food journal or discussing the State of the Union address with people who A) didn’t find it embarrassing and B) have never even seen an episode of Maury Povich—bless their hearts).
People are also reading…
And that is how, late last week, I came across the story of the 1925 Serum Run to Nome, an incredible tale of heroism featuring some of the world’s bravest men and toughest dogs battling the ferocious Alaskan winter in an attempt to rescue the tiny population of Nome, Alaska from an impending diphtheria epidemic that occurred right around this time.
Apparently this was all the subject of a Disney movie in the mid-90s, which I somehow missed because I was busy writing a ground-breaking research paper on some nuance of theoretical physics or maybe just watching reruns of "MTV Cribs" in my college dorm room. I’m not sure which, and, in any event, that was a long time ago.
If you are wondering why the place was called Nome and not Gnome, I am saddened to say that my research turned up very little, and also that you are completely missing the point of the story. The dedication, passion and courage it took to get the vaccine to the waiting children is the stuff of legend, and reminds us all what people—and animals—are capable of overcoming when lives are at stake. The Wikipedia entry alone forced me to clutch a cup of scalding tea. (I don’t really like tea that much so I just kind of held it, but still—it was that gripping a story!)
Please note: Feb. 15 actually marks the anniversary of quite a few other incredible historic events, including the 1944 assault on Italy's Monte Cassino during World War II and the publishing of the entire human genome in 2001. I just noted the Nome story because it was neat and, well, I like dogs.
I plan on bringing this whole business of the Serum Run up to my own dog, who at present is lying at my feet hoping that I will drop a bite of my mid-afternoon snack on the floor somewhere close enough to him that he won’t have to get up to get it. Later on, he might brave the mid-40s temperatures to bark at a bird or two, then promptly return to taking up way more than his fair share of my couch.
While I doubt it will motivate him too much, I, for one, do plan on taking a healthy dose of inspiration from the nearly 100-year-old tale of heroism.
As the saying goes, I can do hard things.
Just don’t ask me to go outside until May.