So in the past couple of weeks, we have seen more of the Katrina devastation. And I am sad for all those whose lives are still in a mess. But at the same time, I can't help comparing the two events.
The attacks on the WTC center provoked so many emotions in me, and those feelings are still strong today especially. This morning there was a special on HBO. And I was moved to tears for the first time today. My son had a hockey game, and while I was sitting outside waiting for the game to start, I took a scrap of paper and just wrote the following: anger, horror, shock, despair, pride, anger, no fear, commitment, resolve, just do it, don't appease ever, firm. Resolve to live. They can be damned.
As you can see, the emotions were at the surface. And one word was repeated several times on that scrap of paper: PRIDE. I remember the NYPD and NYFD heroes. I remember thinking they were amazing - and how heartbreaking that so many gave their lives just doing their jobs. And it occurred to me at that moment: Where were the heroes of Katrina? That was what was missing in all that mess. Where were their police and their firefighters and their heroes? The WTC attack was shocking and sudden and unexpected and catastrophic. Katrina was no shock, really. Hurricanes never are. Yes, the levee breaks weren't expected....... but then again, who could ever expect anything man builds to withstand Mother Nature at her most deadly?
That was the difference that I saw today, in a sudden epiphany. Where the hell were New Orleans' heroes? They weren't there.... they were failed by their public servants and their public officials. Rudy Giuliani was there, almost buried by the rubble, breathing the toxic air, leading.... where was Ray Nagin? Where were the friggin' heroes for the people of New Orleans?
What a difference...... I will never ever forget the firefighters and police of New York on that horrible day. I will never forget the sorrowful wail of the bagpipes at all the funerals for New York's FINEST (and "finest" is an understatement of epic proportions). I will never forget that in the horror of that day, I felt so much pride for these hardworking American citizens.
God Bless New York, all it's citizens and public servants, and God Bless America. And to all those who wish us harm, damn you to the bowels of hell.
Update: I came across this essay, Tribes on another blog which says everything much better than I could ever say... an excerpt:
So, on one hand, we have a very blue city – New York – confronted, out of the clear morning of a perfect fall day, with no warning – with a terror attack, and they march toward the sounds of screams and falling bodies and die by the hundreds. On the other hand, we have New Orleans law enforcement – also blue – whining about wet shoes and helping themselves to the happy period of lawlessness that followed an event that had been expected for no less than seventy-two hours.
In New York, we had a governor who got every available resource on the ground as fast as it could get there, and in Louisiana we have a governor who...cried. Governor, your job is to not cry. Your job is to be strong. We have plenty of civilians crying. You want to cry, cry in the car on the way home like everybody else did four years ago. Crying Governors, race-baiting mayors and looting police do not a Finest Hour make.
In New Orleans we have a mayor who left some 400-500 buses sitting fueled and underwater in the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool saying that evil white conservative America was selling out his people within 24 hours of the catastrophe, from a safe and dry and adequately toileted location, while four years ago we had a Mayor who ran to the site of the disaster so quickly it is a full-blown miracle he was not killed when a building collapsed literally on top of his magnificent, combed-over head.
Now, much has been made of the fact that Ray Nagin is an incompetent, race-baiting black man, and Rudy Giuliani, who was neither, is white. Also, feminists are upset that people dare attack Governor Blanco because she is incompetent, weak, indecisive, and also a woman. And no doubt there are salivating long-haired, short-cortexed idiots just waiting for this to be over so they can sail into the comments section and tell me what a racist and misogynist I am.
Well, here’s the news flash: Nagin isn’t incompetent because he’s black. He’s incompetent because he’s incompetent. Condoleeza Rice is black. Colin Powell is black. Ted Kennedy, a man well-acquainted with rising water crises is as white as they come. Kennedy is incompetent; Rice and Powell are two of the most competent people on the planet.
This is about tribes, all right: not black and white tribes, but rather a battle between the capable and the culpable.
I have just one response: Hell Yeah! This is a long essay, but read the whole thing. It is well worth the time.