Here is a fact. By the late 1940's the debt as a percentage of GDP was about 110%.
Here is the best graph I can find. It shows the debt from the '50s to present. The point is EXPECT HUGE DEFICITS TO BAIL US OUT OF THE PRESENT CRISIS. The debt could go to about 15+ trillion (GNP is around 12 trillion)
I think the question of sacrifice is a valid one. What is ahead of us is some heavy sacrifices including a season of HUGE deficits followed by an era of higher taxes.