The Beginning of the End

One day, years in the future, when our names are forgotten, and our bodies are dust, people will remember today.

When future school children sit at desks, reading about the Great Pandemic of 2020, this Tuesday will be cited in their textbooks. And I, for one, really hope these kids will be forced to grudgingly memorize today’s date the same way we had to memorize stuff like: October 12, 1492; November 11, 1620; and the Pythagorean Theorem.

Because history was made this morning.

It happened in England, when an elderly Irish woman in a wheelchair was wheeled down University Hospital Coventry’s corridor. The hallway was lined with medical staffers, nurses, doctors, custodians, workers, journalists, and photographers who applauded her with uproarious cheers. And there were tears. Many, many tears.

The old woman’s name is Margaret Keenan, she will be 91 next week. She has red hair, a cherub face, happy eyes, a slight build, and she wore a Christmas sweatshirt with a cheerful penguin cartoon on it. Margaret smiled so big that her grin knocked photographers backward and jolted major planets out of their periodic elliptical orbits. And she has reason to beam.

Because at 6:31 a.m., December 8, 2020, Margaret became the first woman in the Western world to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of this morning, the U.K. became the first Western country to start a mass coronavirus vaccination program. Health officials are calling this day “V-Day.”

Like I said. Tears.

To say that people in Britain are excited about this is like saying the Beatles were guitar owners. People have taken to spray-painting “victory” on the city walls. And the happy tears aren’t just in Britain, either, but all over Earth. In fact, one of these weepy fools happens to be seated behind my keyboard right now.

And I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. Medical director for the National Health Service in England, Stephen Powis, had a few heartfelt sentiments to add to this monumental occasion—give me a moment while I remove my reading glasses and dab my bloodshot eyes.

Powis said, “This really feels like the beginning of the end.”

I can’t even find the words to describe how I feel reading that. And believe me, I’ve read that sentence about 1,398 times already, just to make sure I read it correctly.

I am an ordinary Joe Six-Pack. I have no idea what happens now in the global immunization effort, nor what kinds of scientific obstacles medical workers will face. I don’t know squat about the vaccine, and I don’t know about the politics involved. What I know is this: “the beginning of the end.”

Right now as I write to you, there have been 1.07 million COVID-19 cases in my home state of Florida; 284,000 deaths in the United States; and 1.55 million deaths worldwide. But numerical figures tell nothing of the miserable, sunless year our tired world has known.

Do you realize what the last nine months have done to our psyche? Childhood has been dampened worldwide. Mass isolations have torn the fabric of our collective mental health. The basic human act of making new friends is nearly a myth.

When was the last time you went to a party? How about a concert? Not to mention that we’ve lost age old social norms, including the disappearance of shaking hands, hugs, and communal queso dip bowls.

And what about the uptick in cases of clinical depression and anxiety? Depressive disorders in America tripled this year. Alcohol sales have increased 262 percent—that can’t be good. Drug addiction is on the rise. Suicides are happening all over the place.

The 19-year-old waitress who died in a hospital after a suicide attempt because social isolation and loneliness had become too much.

Or the 36-year-old Bangladeshi man who killed himself because people in his village believed he was infected with COVID-19 when he came down with a fever. His postmortem COVID test came back negative.

The young man in Illinois who thought his girlfriend had been infected with coronavirus, so he shot her before killing himself. They, also, both tested negative.

Or the 66-year-old man with throat cancer who hanged himself in a New York hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus.

And may we never forget the beautiful 49-year-old head of New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital Emergency Department, Doctor Lorna Breen, who had no history of mental illness, but committed suicide shortly after telling friends and family about the horrors she saw while treating serious coronavirus patients.

The beginning of the end. That’s what he said.

So don’t tell me not to get excited about this groundbreaking occasion. Don’t tell me not to smile. Or feel good. Or cry. I can’t help it. Today marks the first day in five hundred months that I awoke to a front page bearing good news.

This morning I looked at the photograph of a grinning Irish grandmother, Margaret Keenan, whose bloodstream now contains a vaccine, and I felt something. Something profound. For the first time in a long time I felt like the old me.

Margaret herself said it better than anyone else could:

“I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family… After being on my own for most of the year.”

It’s been a long, dark year. But hold on, we’re getting there.

Happy V-Day.


  1. jondragonfly - December 9, 2020 6:36 am


  2. Mary - December 9, 2020 6:38 am

    Thank you – I (and perhaps others) needed this today!

  3. Jeanne - December 9, 2020 6:40 am

    Yes – I can certainly believe it’s the beginning of the end – but the end of what?

  4. Penn Wells - December 9, 2020 8:28 am

    “Science does correct itself and that’s the reason why science is such a glorious thing for our species.” -Nigel Calder
    If we had all read John Barry’s “The Great Influenza” about the horrors of 1918, this would have been so much easier. 😥

  5. Mary Drouillard - December 9, 2020 9:04 am

    Thank you Sean. This was much needed. Negativity gets very heavy on the soul. This lightened the load a bit today. I appreciate you and your words daily.

  6. Margaret E Odell - December 9, 2020 9:31 am

    Happy V-Day to you Sean. If we can just hang in a little longer, this nightmare WILL end!

  7. Garson - December 9, 2020 10:21 am

    She was the first person to be vaccinated against coronavirus. Ok. Now how do we know if it’s effective? I don’t want to be cynical. All those other things you mentioned, suicides, mental illness, loneliness, that has been happening since the beginning of time and will continue happening. There is nothing new under the sun, as the old saying goes. Live your life. Just be careful.

  8. Margaret - December 9, 2020 10:53 am

    My name is also Margaret and I too am a senior citizen. My birthday is December 8th. If you’re Catholic, it’s the day of the Immaculate Conception. That’s a holy day of obligation and this year it’s “attending” church remotely.
    I can’t think of a better birthday gift than another Margaret that lives “across the pond” getting the first Covid 19 vaccination. The beginning of the end. Glory Be!!!

  9. Curtis Lee Zeitelhack - December 9, 2020 11:55 am

    Of course, Margaret was not really the “first”, because many were vaccinated during the drug trials, but she is the symbolic “first” and the minds of the people of free nations, she is the “first”. Now, we start inoculating the rest of humanity. A ray of sunshine has come back into our world!

  10. Cyn - December 9, 2020 12:56 pm

    Hallelujah. Thank you. For reminding us to never give up on hope.

  11. Jill - December 9, 2020 1:28 pm

    I was born in 1952 and remember hearing stories about polio cases before there was a vaccine. My parents didn’t take us to Sunday School or children’s birthday parties because you would hear about outbreaks. As soon as the vaccine was out, everyone got their children vaccinated and life returned to normal. It wasn’t until I was 4 that I started going to Sunday School, made friends outside of family, and went to birthday parties. Thank God polio has been eradicated and very soon, hopefully, COVID will become a disease of the past that we read about.

  12. Gary - December 9, 2020 1:34 pm

    We have to hope and pray that it works ! Thanks for the update and the story.
    Everyone is getting tired !

  13. Heather - December 9, 2020 1:46 pm

    Sean during this so-called pandemic I’ve seen some good writing and some that indicates you have bought into the lies that the “authorities,” the paid off “scientists” and the legacy media have been telling us. It’s risky indeed to put your trust in some vaccine that has been developed so quickly and with dubious testing, at best.

    Here’s some facts for you to review:
    The testing for the virus, is inaccurate at best, and is being used to perpetrate the lies. The Polymerase Chain Reaction or “PCR” test is designed like this: a swab collects RNA from your nasal cavity. This RNA is then reverse transcribed into DNA in a lab. However, the genetic snippets are so small they must be amplified in order to become discernible. Each round of amplification is called a cycle. Amplification over 35 cycles is considered unreliable and scientifically unjustified, yet tests recommended by the World Health Organization are set to 45 cycles. In real terms, there’s a 90% chance that a so called “positive” test, all they’ll find are virus remainders and they are not transmissible nor is the person that has them ill.

    Second; reporting of “cases.” Do NOT believe what they are reporting. First of all now that you are aware of the fact that the PCR test they use is in the vast majority of cases, a false test, then the report of case numbers the legacy media puts out is not indicative of people with the illness. You notice that they don’t publish information on hospitalisations or numbers of people with actual symptoms? That’s on purpose. A “case” in medical terminology is someone with symptoms who has been confirmed by medical diagnostic procedures (testing/xrays, etc – and the term “case” is used for any disease, not just the virus). However what is being reported in the media as “official” state or national virus “cases” are positive tests — and they’re 90% inaccurate, the person doesn’t have any symptoms.

    This reporting of “cases” serves to engender fear in the general population who mostly want to get on with things but safely. So people fear that the severity of the “pandemic” is continuing because “cases” rise. AND … each time someone’s tested, even in a nursing home or and they test positive it’s a new “case” for that day. And the media reports it daily and usually it leads on the broadcast news. The important information would be number hospitalised, or number with symptoms, etc., and only NEW hospitalisations and new folks reporting symptoms. Soon we’d see that this so-called pandemic is nothing of the sort.

    In one study, at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, which looked at pregnant women admitted for delivery, 87.9% of the women who tested positive for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (a/k/a COVID 19) had no symptoms. Another study looked at a large homeless shelter in Boston. After a cluster of COVID-19 “cases” was observed there, researchers conducted symptoms assessments and testing among all guests residing at the shelter over a two-day period. Of 408 people tested, 147, or 36%, were positive, yet symptoms were conspicuously absent. Cough occurred in only 7.5% of cases, shortness of breath in 1.4% and fever in 0.7%. All symptoms were “uncommon among COVID-positive individuals,” the researchers noted.

    In Wuhan, China, “ground zero” for the virus, they tested more than 90% of city residents aged 6+ (9.8 million!!) during a 2 week period in May. The city had been in a strict lockdown from the end of January up to the end of April.

    34,000 had recovered from illness due to the virus, but the rest hadn’t been ill. The people involved who’d been ill were definitely contact traced as were their contacts. A good percentage had previous testing for the virus. The result was that none of the people who had had close contact with someone who’d tested positive previously had developed any symptoms — or even tested positive.

    So now in many states “cases” are on the rise. And the petty tyrants are trying once again to lockdown and shutdown, and remove our liberties: to support ourselves, to worship freely, to travel, and to assemble peaceably. WE MUST SAY NO, WE MUST NOT CONTINUE TO BE SHEEPLE! STAND UP and don’t believe the lies you’re being told. Use your brain, and your fingers to research — and Google is NOT your friend, I recommend DuckDuckGo as a websearch source. There is so much information contrary to what the “authorities” are providing and legacy media is reporting, readily available.

  14. Rich Owen - December 9, 2020 1:52 pm

    I’m going to remember you penned this when Biden is sworn in and orders a nationwide 100-day moratorium.

  15. Jo Ann - December 9, 2020 1:52 pm

    Thank you, Sean, for telling us more about Margaret in the UK. I did see her photo, she looks like a good-natured person. Congratulations to her! ( a belated Happy Birthday to the Margaret who commented before me!!) My husband & I will gladly take the vaccine as soon as it’s available & won’t let the fearmongers affect us. We’re both retired medical professionals & have taken every vaccine that will help us maintain our health. I hope your stuffy, runny nose turned out to be a cold, Sean.

  16. Dale Ann - December 9, 2020 1:54 pm

    Thank you, Sean. I needed to read your beautiful and heartwarming message this morning. You have brightened my day.

  17. Susan - December 9, 2020 1:57 pm

    Beautifully written. I always look forward to reading you each day, but this is THE BEST yet. Thank you!

  18. Kjl - December 9, 2020 2:06 pm

    And there is much rejoicing. Thank you for sharing this momentous day and for remembering those who couldn’t find enough hope to carry on.

  19. Greyn - December 9, 2020 2:24 pm

    In the months and years ahead it will become increasingly apparent that the response to the virus has been more pernicious, destructive, and resounding than the thing itself.

  20. Beki D - December 9, 2020 2:41 pm

    Sean, I have decided that from now on I will only read your daily post and not the comments. Geez Louise the negativity folks have up in here. From writing a thesis on why you shouldn’t believe what you believe to comments like the beginning of the end-the end of what? That dear person, bless their pea picking heart needs to re read your post. Mercy folks, choose joy! Choose happiness! Thank you Sean for continuing to be a ray of sunshine and for CHOOSING to be optimistic. Another amazing post!

  21. E. Ann - December 9, 2020 2:46 pm

    Tears — Joy — Hurrah, Sean! Hurrah, Americans!! Hurrah, World!!! It’s gonna be alright.

  22. Phil (Brown Marlin) - December 9, 2020 3:18 pm

    Hooray for Margaret! Let’s get the rest of the world vaccinated asap. High-risk folks like Margaret first plus all those in the medical profession. To that brave, tireless group, I am reminded of the words of Winston Churchill about the fighter pilots of the RAF after the Battle of Britain, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

  23. sherry - December 9, 2020 4:15 pm

    I really appreciate your enthusiasm and optimism. I pray it works and that there are no unforeseen side effects. My granddaughter fell asleep so early she didn’t see Santa riding the fire engine last night. She always stays up, but she’s tired. Part of it is having to wear a mask all day at school. I don’t feel we are getting enough oxygen to our brains. We are all tired.

  24. Buttercup - December 9, 2020 4:16 pm

    Yes, I’m not buying into anything big pharma (means witchcraft), media, or politicians try to feed me.

  25. Ginny Judson - December 9, 2020 4:50 pm

    Wow! You really guzzled the propaganda! Every one of those stories of despair and suicide is a story that should be laid right on the head of mainstream media for scaring people to death about a virus which 97-99% of the people who test positive for it will survive. This doesn’t even take into account the millions who’ve likely had it and never tested!

  26. Ginny Judson - December 9, 2020 4:51 pm


  27. Ginny Judson - December 9, 2020 4:52 pm

    I’m with you.


  28. lisa spencer - December 9, 2020 4:53 pm

    Will never take that vaccine.

  29. Carol Smith - December 9, 2020 5:08 pm

    A light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you President Trump for making this vaccine possible so quickly. And thank you Sean for such a great post. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.

  30. Leigh - December 9, 2020 5:09 pm

    I love your writing but disagree with your thoughts on this topic. Yes, we would all love a magic wand that would eradicate this biological weapon foisted upon our country from a sworn enemy. But I do not trust Fauci, or Gates, or Big Pharma any more than I trust China.

  31. Patricia Gibson - December 9, 2020 5:27 pm

    I think we are all glad for this breakthrough as long as it is voluntary but I have to wonder. A lot of what you wrote transpired because of fear perpetuated by the media. 284000 people died fromCovid in the US and that’s awful. Every year and average of one million eight hundred thousand people die from heart issues. Is this announced daily? Do we close fast food restaurants, force weight loss and gym membership? And this is just one illness. I guess it makes me mad that people are losing lives, homes and businesses due to an irrational fear. I hope the vaccine works for those that take it.

  32. DiAn - December 9, 2020 6:40 pm

    “December 8th, 2020 – A day that shall live in Victory!” Thank you, Sean, for celebrating with all of us and for cheering all of us on! Keep it up! We all need to hear from you. – DiAn

  33. Sandy - December 9, 2020 8:12 pm

    The light at the end if the tunnel is shining brightly. Finally we can be hopeful that this long nightmare is coming to an end. However, many lives were sacrificed in the meantime. We learned alot about government’s response or lack if it in the face of this pandemic. Public health is something that is necessary but poorly funded by the government. Hopefully President Biden will add much needed resources to the Public Health services.

  34. Suzanne Moore - December 9, 2020 8:15 pm

    I share your feelings, Sean. Even though I have always been told that I write well, and even though I taught English to high school and college teachers for a number of years, I cannot approach your level of talent as a writer. You express your own feelings, but I so often feel that you speak from MY heart as well. You truly have a gift, and I am so grateful that you share your gift with us. May God keep you and your family safe in these troubled times.

  35. Barbara England - December 9, 2020 8:57 pm

    If only the vaccine could stop government overreach into our lives. What has been most destructive to our lives is not the virus itself, but the bizarre overreaction to it, and bizarre demands from the government. Demands that have destroyed so many people’s livelihoods and social networks. I sincerely believe that this whole shutdown has done nothing to slow, or stop the spread. It has just killed America as we knew it. And I wish I felt as positive as you do about the vaccine.

  36. Robert M Brenner - December 9, 2020 9:30 pm

    Amen Brother! It truly is a glorious day Sean, keep on brightening our days with your columns you truly do have a gift.

  37. Levy Cassie - December 9, 2020 10:08 pm

    Thank you, Sean, for providing a positive and uplifting column and for having the common sense not to fall for the endless conspiracy nonsense so prevalent on social media today. I remember the gratitude for the polio vaccine, too, and will always be grateful to those medical professionals who have provided us with the means to fight polio, smallpox, typhoid, et al, and now COVID-19.

  38. Martha Young - December 9, 2020 10:09 pm

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Let us rejoice and be glad. This is the day the Lord hath made.

  39. Martha Young - December 9, 2020 10:15 pm

    Sad to read some of the comments. All I can say to those people with negative comments, you apparently did not have a relative or friend that died from Covid or was extremely ill with lasting side effects from Covid. If so, your attitude would be very different. Count your blessings that you were spared living with that nightmare. Our family was not that blessed.

  40. Linda Moon - December 9, 2020 11:23 pm

    I will remember Margaret Keenan’s courage for a long time. She is a true heroine. Medical heroes and heroines have been facing my obstacles for 15 years, sometimes with solutions tailor-made just for me. I’m only one insignificant human speck on earth, and I can just imagine how many humans will benefit from Margaret! I saw my heroines today, so “Thank You” Margaret and Mine for giving us back our souls!!

  41. elizabethroosje - December 10, 2020 2:43 am

    it’s really wonderful and beautiful! Take heart Sean, it is getting better!!! Keep hope. I remember when that poor NYC doctor took her life; it was so sad; I was sad to read of the other ones too; I am comforted that we can pray for them, even when they have left this earth. God be with you and comfort you. I know it has been so very hard. You have been through a lot of hard things and God can carry you a day at a time. Lord have mercy and heal our hearts!

  42. Rich Owen - December 10, 2020 2:46 pm

    Right there with ya, Heather! You are spot on with this so-called “pandemic”!

  43. Gordon - December 10, 2020 3:11 pm

    Very well stated, Heather. I totally agree with your perception on this issue. I am still questioning this “new vaccine”.

  44. Nancy Gilbert - December 10, 2020 9:23 pm

    awwww Sean, this is one of your best ever’s. I’m a 79 year old grandmother weeping…..

  45. Julie RN - January 4, 2021 5:37 pm

    My personal “V-Day” was on Christmas Day, and this Registered Nurse is so grateful! As the COVID-19 Vaccine continues to gain momentum, so also will be the winding down, and eventual demise of this Horrific Monster. In the meantime, while waiting patiently for the Vaccine, we must Pray, Wash Hands frequently, practice Social Distancing, and Wear Masks. Oh, and did I mention…PRAY…fervently🙏


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