COVID – StoryCorps
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“I Took An Oath To Respond To The Needs Of My Nation”: An Army Chaplain Remembers The Height Of COVID-19 In New York City

As a military chaplain, Army Major Ivan Arreguin has seen many overseas deployments. But in April 2020, while serving with the 44th Medical Brigade out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was deployed stateside for a mission unlike any other.

At the time, New York City had been dubbed the epicenter of the coronavirus. Hospitals were overrun with patients, and doctors and nurses were spread thin. Relief came in many forms, including military medical units, who were providing additional support and care.

Over StoryCorps Connect, Chaplain Arreguin told his wife, Aileen, what it was like to be stationed in New York City during the height of COVID-19.

Top Photo: Army Major Ivan Arreguin (center), and other soldiers, escorting the remains of a veteran who died from COVID-19 while being treated at the Javits New York Medical Station, in New York City, April 19, 2020. Photo by U.S. Air National Guard Major Patrick Cordova.
Middle Photo: Army Major Ivan Arreguin and Aileen Arreguin at their son’s wedding in Sanford, NC, in June 2020. Courtesy of the Arreguin family.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Originally aired November 14, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

A Pandemic Couldn’t Stop Her: A Lifelong Voter Finds Inspiration From Her Mother

Helen Merrill, age 91, prides herself on one simple fact: that in her lifetime, she’s never missed a single presidential election. 

It’s a determination that she traces back to her mother, Blanche, a woman who raised twelve children in rural Iowa.

Blanche, like millions of others, had become seriously ill during the 1918 flu pandemic. She was also a supporter of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, which was fighting for the right to vote.

By the 1920 election, Blanche had still not fully recovered, but the 19th Amendment had been passed and she was determined to exercise her newly given right.

Nearly one hundred years later, Helen came to StoryCorps with her granddaughter, Elizabeth, to remember how Blanche made it to the polls, and how her strength continues to inspire her to this day.

Top Photo: Helen Merrill and Elizabeth Hartley in 2017. Courtesy of Andrea Hartley.
Middle Photo: Ralph and Blanche Reeves in 1944. Courtesy of Andrea Hartley. 
Bottom Photo: Helen Merrill celebrating Independence Day in July 2018. Courtesy of Andrea Hartley.

Originally aired October 16, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.