I am an American. No vaccine. No mask…

The philosophy that as a free American I can refuse to be vaccinated or wear a mask during the return of COVID-19, in full swing now, needs to be investigated a bit further. We have Olympic athletes and GOP senators arguing that an American has the right to refuse to do either. It is also argued that for religious reasons and personal beliefs, the government and employers cannot refuse admission to schools, jobs and churches for such refusal.

I have studied the U.S. Constitution for over 60 years and have written about some of the more arcane parts of it from time to time. In spite of those studies, I cannot find one thing that would prohibit an employer or university from mandating vaccinations and masks for entry and attendance at their facility.

I would be the first to admit that the vaccines came out with minimum time for study and do not yet have final governmental approval. But, look at how the unvaccinated are the ones contracting the Delta virus more often and with staggering and severe complications. Lee Health in Fort Myers, Fla., reported last Friday that their ER was filled to capacity once again. This time, 89% were unvaccinated patients. They also reported that, to date, they have had no vaccinated patient admitted to the ICU. Trust the science say some. But how about the simple fact that people who are vaccinated don’t get the disease nearly as seriously? Isn’t that the ultimate test of effectiveness?

Life is often about choices. I have one child unvaccinated. I clearly do not understand that choice. Two grandsons have had the virus, but fortunately did well. We have multiple grandchildren who have been vaccinated. I do not apologize for my opposing what some clergy, many politicians and a lot of other people view as reasons for no vaccine or for that matter, masks. Almost 40% of eligible Americans remain unvaccinated. With that statistic, compare the data of those who contract this new Delta strain and how they fare after being diagnosed with the virus. Hello!

During the Vietnam War, the draft of young men took away the ultimate right of freedom. If you were healthy and over 18, you could be drafted or face jail. Sure, some believed that their newfound religion would exempt them from serving, and some did escape the draft for religious and medical reasons, but the rest of us served. We didn’t challenge our “freedom as an American” to avoid it. The government had the right whether we believed in that war or not.

Now take businesses. Can an employer insist its employees be vaccinated? Can they insist on the wearing of a mask? Why not? It is their company. It is not discriminatory as it applies to all. Unlike the draft, one can refuse to work there and still be “free.” Of course, one also had the right to go to Canada in the 1960s and avoid the draft at the cost of one’s citizenship.

I see the refusal to vaccinate as selfish, as is the refusal to wear a mask. It may well happen that your stubborn choice may seriously harm others. If you don’t protect yourself and you die, what have you done to your spouse or children? Sure, you are gone with all your rights in place, but you left them alone. No attendance of their graduation, or their weddings, or their successes in life. This all because of your self-centered and really childish behavior. They will miss you for a while, but you will be forgotten as they move on, and their last memory of you may well be your attitude of “You can’t tell me what to do.”

But we do tell you what to do through laws all the time. You can’t drive without a license. You can’t drive drunk. Children must have routine childhood vaccinations to attend school. In this case, no one is telling you that you must vaccinate or you must wear a mask. The choice is yours, but soon there will be things that happen to you, if you don’t. No airplane travel. No employment in health care facilities. Maybe no employment at your work place.

A recent study shows that military officers have a very high vaccination rate, while the enlisted troops do not. Are these troops of lower rank just wanting to tell the world that they cannot be ordered around on this subject? That may also soon change.

The unvaccinated and unmasked will most likely close down society again, and we will once again suffer the shuttered nation syndrome with more people out of work, more businesses closing and more dead people. We can beat this disease as a nation if we all band together. Science has rushed to give us hope and most of us have accepted that help. We should also believe that there is more to science than politics.

I remember an old quote during the Vietnam era about choices and one’s country. It went like this:

“If you don’t believe your country comes before yourself, you can better serve your country by living someplace else.”

Don’t be political on this issue. Get that vaccination and then wear a mask in those required places to help save others, as well as perhaps yourself. Be American and do what is best for your country.

Dennis Marek can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or through his personal email at dmarek@ambltd.com.