The coronavirus pandemic that has upended so much of our lives so suddenly has reminded us in dramatic fashion of what is most important.

We’ve been kept apart from many of those we hold dear. We’ve had to do without many of the things that give us enjoyment. We’re all dealing with levels of uncertainty and anxiety that many of us have never before faced.

It’s a time of tremendous difficulty, as many are thrust out of work or work fewer hours. Businesses large and small are fighting for their survival as society has been forced to shut down and isolate to stem the spread of the deadly virus.

Lives and livelihoods are at risk on such a vast scale that we resort to war comparisons to try to convey the horrific magnitude of the moment, the helpless feeling of being trapped in a waking bad dream.

We’re also witnessing inspiring examples of selfless dedication by those who care for others -- doctors, nurses, aides, technicians, therapists and countless others in the health-care professions who tend to the sick at great risk to themselves.

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For health-care workers and first responders, the battlefield analogies are all too real. That’s especially true given the appalling shortage of protective wear available for their safety.

Exposure to infectious diseases has always been a part of being a health care worker. But it’s never happened on such an enormous scale in our lifetimes.

Those who go into the health professions do so out of a selfless desire to help others. We expect them to be compassionate and to be skilled. We never expected them to be brave.

But our dedicated health-care workers and first responders are displaying enormous bravery and fortitude in simply doing their jobs under circumstances that were unimaginable just weeks ago.

We’ve also learned a greater appreciation for essential workers -- an array of people who keep essential services running, including warehouse and delivery workers, grocery and pharmacy staff, utility workers, sanitation workers, transportation and communication workers, government employees, public officials and many others.

They, too, in many cases are risking their own health merely by doing their jobs, work that others depend upon for society to keep going in these troubled times.

We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude. We’re thankful for their contributions.

Someday this coronavirus nightmare will end. We will recover. Life will gradually return to the normalcy we now so crave.

But we should never forget the lessons we’ve learned so painfully from this pandemic.

Not the least of those is an appreciation of the dedication of our health-care workforce and first responders. They are true heroes.