Skeletons in my closet

The silent running dialogue that I often have with myself.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A speech and a message that needs to be heard!

"I am a New Orleanian."
LRA Chair Norman Francis' Address at the Mass Commemorating the First Anniversary of Hurricane KatrinaAugust 29, 2006St. Louis Cathedral

Archbishop Hughes and Leaders of the Diocese, President Bush, Governor Blanco, Members of Congress, my Colleagues from the Louisiana Recovery Authority, federal, state and local officials and other Distinguished Guests,
I think you will all's been a long year.
Three hundred sixty-five days of disbelief ...and anguish ...and determination ...and faith...and hard work ...and hope. It's still hard to comprehend the scope of it all.
So many days, we-the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita-have felt like Job of the Old Testament. We've questioned our faith, our neighbors, our leaders, and our levees.
We witnessed this great city's vibrancy and energy being replaced overnight with devastation.
Our losses are incomprehensible.
Fifty-seven days under water. 200,000 homes destroyed. Our economy ground to a halt. Our families dispersed across America.
It's tried our patience and our faith.
It's sometimes difficult to remember that with so much at hand, we have to focus our efforts one step at a time and pull as one-all of us together.
This is the test of our lifetimes.
My colleagues on the Louisiana Recovery Authority were honored and privileged to accept Governor Blanco's invitation to serve our state in this unprecedented recovery task. These dedicated volunteers have spent hours, days, nights and weekends addressing our fiduciary responsibilities. With the Governor, Legislature and all Louisianians, we have pledged to make this region a better place than it was-with safer homes and businesses, stronger levees and restored wetlands, and smarter approaches to rebuilding our neighborhoods, our public schools and health care systems.
We will do this, and we have begun this difficult journey.
The signs of progress are not always easy to see, but they are here. Schools are in session, people are rebuilding, businesses are reopening and the music of life has begun to return.
So much of the hard recovery work rooted in the first year will take off in the second.
Reforms in education, in governance and in health care hold great promise.
The generosity of the American people and their elected representatives has given us substantial resources for rebuilding.
But there are many challenges ahead.
In the case of New Orleans, our charge is to rebuild in a short amount of time what our forbears took 300 years to create-with our culture intact and our doors of opportunity open to all who want to join us in this City's rebirth.
I was not born a New Orleanian.
I moved here in 1948 as a young man, an entering freshman at Xavier University, eager to learn, ready to see what I could bring to the world and what the world could bring to me.
There was no better place to be.
This city was a beacon of opportunity-just as it has been for so many others since its founding. And though I did not grow up here, this is my city.
I am proud to be a New Orleanian.
New Orleans has become a part of me, as our jazz and art and architecture and cuisine and families have become a part of the soul of everyone who has ever lived here or visited.
New Orleans has now become a part of the soul of every person who was touched by Katrina.
Every person who has ever felt grief, helplessness, or vulnerability knows what we suffered in New Orleans.
Katrina has made New Orleans a symbol of the devastation that wreaked the Gulf Coast, a symbol of man's vulnerability to Nature, a symbol of our society's weaknesses, a symbol of human resilience.
Katrina also made New Orleans a symbol for heroism, compassion, human decency and generosity of spirit.
That's why I'm honored to be able to express our gratitude and thanks to all of God's angels in Louisiana and elsewhere who gave unselfishly on our behalf.
When the first responders and other volunteers pulled our families off roof tops, out of attics and out of trees, their actions said for each of them: "I am a New Orleanian."
When families in towns and cities in every state of this nation opened their hearts and homes to our evacuees, the sound of their doors opening spoke for each of them: "I am a New Orleanian."
When nurses and doctors and orderlies carried their patients to rooftop evacuations and hand-ventilated those who needed it, their actions to honor their profession called out: "I am a New Orleanian."
When college students, church groups, and retirees chose to spend their vacations gutting houses and rescuing family treasures, the sound of crow bars and hammers hard at work rang out: "I am a New Orleanian."
When gentle hearts and warm souls lent shoulders to cry on, their compassion spoke quietly: "I am a New Orleanian."
When President Bush stood in Jackson Square in September and pledged to help us rebuild this great city, he joined our founders by symbolically staking his future to ours, telling the nation and the world: "I am a New Orleanian."
When Governor Blanco comforted victims at the Superdome and across the region, when she shared their grief of the loss of loved ones as only a mother who has lost a son can do, when she spoke to unite us and not divide us in a time of terrible tragedy, when she stood strong and fought for the resources Louisiana needs to rebuild, she didn't need to say what we already knew: "I am a New Orleanian."
As Mayor Nagin communicates his optimism about this city's triumphant rise from the depths of despair, his determination and commitment say, "I am a New Orleanian."
The City of New Orleans will once again be a beacon of hope.
The Gulf Coast will once again be a beacon of hope.
We will rebuild our communities safer, stronger, smarter.
We will rebuild them with opportunity for all.
We will rebuild them with confidence, vision, and energy.
We will rebuild them to realize the hopes and dreams of all who have lived here and all who have helped us in our time of need.
And we will rebuild them for the tens of thousands of Louisiana people, scattered throughout the nation, aching to return home.
That is our sacred obligation, and with God's Grace and the help of "new" New Orleanians from across the country and around the globe, we will succeed by honoring the memory of those Katrina took from us with our City's and Region's rebirth.Mr. President, we express our thanks to you for supporting our requests for funds. We are grateful to the Congress for appropriating this financial assistance and to the American people for their loyalty. To all who have provided support around the globe, we say thanks. To Chairman Don Powell, we owe a deep debt of gratitude for his tireless efforts on our behalf and for listening so very well.
In light of the difficulties we all must make in our future recovery efforts, we pray this morning that God will
"Give us the courage to change the things that must be changed;The fortitude to accept the things that cannot be changed;And the wisdom to know the difference between the two."
May God bless us all!

I could not have said it any better myself. That speech almost moved me to tears. It truly has been a year that I will never forget.I was saddened and then angered by the medias commemoration/celebration of Katrina. I listened to networks from CNN to Tom Joyner, comment and toll the one-year anniversary of the most devastating event in U.S. History. I really worry the direction this thing is going. Public sentiment is fickle. I don’t want the moment to get lost in FEMA or Global Warming, or even costal restoration. But I don’t want America to forget, people still need help.

Forgetting Katrina is forgivable. Hurricanes on the gulf coast are a part of life. There will be another one, someday bigger, more devastating (hopefully not in my life time). But, what we can’t forget are the people. What we must not forget is what this storm showed us. We can never forget how much we can open our hearts in compassion even in this day and age. What we should never forget is that people are what make this whole thing work, not the government. Where our elected officials failed us, where our appointed officials failed us, we never failed ourselves. This speech is so honest, because homes were opened, cities were opened and people did their best.

I don't ask the often replayed and trite question, "Where were you when Katrina hit?" I am more in favor of the more revealing question,” Where were you before Katrina Hit, and where are you now?!" New Orleans, south Louisiana for that matter had big problems before Katrina, so the storm was neither the source nor the solution, merely a catalyst. So forgive me if this sounds absurd, Thanks but no thanks, if you are here to help as long as the Cameras are here go home. We don’t need self-aggrandizement. If you are here because Congress in their infinite wisdom sent 10 billion dollars to the area, go home. We don’t need carpet baggers.

We need people who really care, because the problem doesn’t stop with the levee, or the floodwaters, or the Hurricane...Hearts and minds need to be repaired.

Yesterday.I watched and listened:
as Al Sharpton complained about the treatment of evacuees,
as Jessie Jackson drove buses to get STUDENTS from Xavier out of the storm ravaged area.
as people merely hampered by a hurricane but utterly broken by the governments apathetic response wondered from whence there salvation would come.

One year later nothing has changed.
Al is still complaining, and demanding justice, now it’s for trailers to be provided (and re-keyed).
Jessie is still driving buses, except these buses are to get black voters to vote again for the black mayor.
People are now recovered from the hurricane, but still broken by the government’s apathetic response.

I don’t complain.

I bare witness.

Truth is you are never prepared for life, life happens and you withstand, conquer, become overwhelmed, rise yet again.I am still sad today. I will probably get sadder after I watch Spike Lee's joint on Katrina. Our government failed us this i now know. I can no longer sit piously by as other countries violate the morals, cultures and high standards of the good ole USA. I can no longer tisk, tisk, tisk, Ethiopians as they eat rice and bat at flies, or slight the failures of foreign countries to protect their children from sweat shops and pedophiles. I too have seen the third world and it is 60 miles from my door. I sat in disbelief as I watched friends and family share corners of my home as their homes were destroyed. I cried as I watched children on rooftops for days begging for rescue. I anguished as I watched mothers caring for despondent children underneath interstate overpasses with no food or water. I grew angry as those rescued were further subjected to harm as they were shuttled and disbursed throughout the country.

I wonder have I witnessed a modern day genocide caused by a Hurricane but enabled by failed government inactivity.

But, I can say without fear of contradiction, human spirit, American Spirit, and compassion, can conquer even this!


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