My daughter who lives out-of-town flew into New York and stayed over for Shabbos. My married daughter also spent Shabbos with us, along with her husband and daughter. They joined my wife and me and our two daughters who live at home. It was the first time in a while that the family was all together for Shabbos.

On Sunday we all went to a World War II encampment/reenactment at the American Armor Museum at Old Bethpage Restoration Village. As is customary at these events, there are individuals dressed in period uniforms as well as weapons from the time. The event ended with a reenactment where American soldiers, backed by a tank and other weapons, stormed a German bunker. The event was well attended.  Then my mother joined all of us for a family barbecue at my house.

What is amazing about these events is that they happened. A year ago, there was only a promise of a potential vaccine. Moreover, even if one could be developed, there was the logical challenge of getting it to people. This was a serious worry considering how badly the rollout for COVID went. Furthermore, many people were hesitant about the shots. At that time, the only thing that America was leading the world with were the number of cases and the number of deaths. For example, on June 20, 2020, there were 32,025 reported cases and 546 deaths in the United States.

So much has changed since then. Vaccines were developed in record time. At the beginning, the demand for the vaccine was so great that there were not enough vaccines to give shots to everyone who wanted it. That problem has been solved. America, which looked so incompetent when it came to COVID testing and tracing, has ended up being the envy of the world as it relates to getting people vaccines. New York State is a good example. It was a disaster area, with skyrocketing deaths and hospitalizations. Now New York State has a 70% vaccination rate and has a low number of cases and deaths.  Nationwide, on June 20, 2021, there were 3,892 reported cases and 83 deaths. 

That is why events such as the reenactment are held outside, and the vast majority of people were not wearing masks. My reunion was not uncommon. Families who have not seen each other for months can now get together safely. What a difference a year makes.

Nevertheless, we should not totally let our guard down. We see how variants have spread in other countries.  For example, Brazil had 44,178 reported cases and India 53,449 cases reported per day. When COVID started to spread in Europe, some people in the United States did not take it seriously. They thought it would not come here. Let us not make that mistake again.

Also, we should never forget those who died and others who are still feeling the mental and/or physical effects of the virus. The pain of the families who lost a loved one and those who suffer from it is something we should never forget. Additionally, the fact that we can now engage in pre-COVID activities is something that we should appreciate and not take for granted.

The United States is a better place than it was a year ago. It is up to all of us to make sure that it continues.

Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.