During this time of year, Christians look forward to Easter.
As we gather to celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead, I look forward to hearing many of the hymns written for the occasion. One of my favorites is “Welcome, Happy Morning!”
Welcome, happy morning!
Age to age shall say:
Hell today is vanquished,
Heaven is won today!
Lo! the Dead is living,
God for evermore
Him their true Creator,
All his works adore!
This hymn has origins in the early church of late antiquity. Venantius Fortunatus, a sixth-century cleric of the Merovingian Court, wrote in Latin several works that are still used in Christian worship. The words of the hymn we know today as “Welcome, Happy Morning!” were later translated into English by the British cleric John Ellerton in 1868. Those English words are frequently sung to music composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan, half of the famed Gilbert and Sullivan team that wrote popular comic operas in the Victoria era.
That a song written in Latin more than 1,400 years ago by a churchman in a Frankish court and translated into our language more than 150 years ago can resonate today indicates the power of the message behind it.
The message is also powerful today because we still see the need of it. As Christians look forward to the return of the Prince of Peace, we pray for peace in the world today as war afflicts Ukraine.
I join all observing Easter, including those in Orthodox traditions following their calendar, in hoping for that peace and celebrating what the day means:
Bloom in every meadow,
Leaves on every bough,
Speak His sorrow ended,
Hail His triumph now.
Going Backward on PPE
The philosopher George Santayana famously warned, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” What does it say if we cannot remember the extremely recent past?
In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, our country’s response was hampered by a lack of sufficient quality personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves. The Strategic National Stockpile had been depleted by the Obama Administration, and much of what remained had expired. The PPE market was dominated by foreign manufacturers, including China.
The United States had to compete with other countries to buy and could sometimes end up with inferior products. For a period, China even stopped exporting PPE.
These events clearly demonstrated the need for a strong domestic PPE manufacturing base.
Many American companies stepped up to the plate. They shifted their output to the materials desperately needed to combat the pandemic and save lives. But according to an April 11 Associated Press story, a mere two years after a lack of American-based PPE manufacturing proved a significant problem, domestic production once again is in jeopardy:
Many companies that began producing personal protective equipment with patriotic optimism have scaled back, shut down or given up, according to an Associated Press analysis based on numerous interviews with manufacturers. Some already have sold equipment they bought with state government grants . . . Many manufacturers who answered the call have faced logistical hurdles, regulatory rejections, slumping demand and fierce competition from foreign suppliers.
If these difficulties overcome attempts to establish a stable domestic PPE manufacturing base, we could find ourselves in a future pandemic faced with the same shortages and scramble for supplies of COVID-19’s early days.
In January of this year, I introduced the Domestic SUPPLY Act. My bill would require the Federal Government to establish a program to enter into purchasing agreements with U.S.-owned and -operated PPE manufacturers, require it only to purchase domestically-made PPE with limited exceptions, and require states and localities receiving federal money to do the same.
My bill presents a chance to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. I urge Congress to act on it.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, call my Abingdon office at (276) 525-1405, my Christiansburg office at (540) 381-5671, my Washington office at (202) 225-3861, or via email at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.