Friday, September 09, 2005

Shelter From The Storm

Sitting here, figuring on a Friday night of grading papers in front of the TV and I discover a commercial-free concert on all networks for hurricane relief. Ellen DeGeneres was the first speaker, talking about how she was born and raised in New Orleans .... Morgan Freeman spoke about growing up in the Mississippi delta. In between the two, Bono sang "One" -- with lyrics that seemed incredibly apt.

I myself was born and raised in the Washington, DC, area. My best visual of "home" is flying into National Airport at night, to see the lights of the city and to be able to identify all the buildings as we make our descent. So, I fully recognize the magnitude of the events of September 11th, events which also prompted similar wide-spread fund-raising and attention.

The thing of it is, and I certainly don't intend to downplay all the losses incurred four years ago this weekend but .... New York City is still there. Washington DC is still there. When I go home at Christmas, I can still fly into National and see my lights, "my" city. Sure, there are some differences -- more barriers, higher security. But it's still there.

New Orleans isn't.

9/11, we "just" lost people. And again, not that people aren't significant, but here we've lost more than people. We've lost a major city, a huge portion of our history, a whole culture and language. And that's just what "we" lost, as a nation. As individuals .... it's indescribable.

9/11, people "just" had to move down the street, if need be. Now, I have students who don't even know where their friends are, if their friends are even still alive; other students who have had their entire class scatter throughout the country at a moment's notice.

I worked for two years at a school in southwestern Louisiana. I had boarders from New Orleans, Slidell, Metarie. The school has probably now doubled in size, as they take in as many folks as they can from the sister school in New Orleans. Of course, many of the kids have also gone to sister schools in New Jersey, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston .... at least they've got some familarity with the school system, even if not with the city or people.

The school I worked at was the second-oldest school west of the Mississippi.

If I'm not mistaken, the oldest school west of the Mississippi was the Ursuline Academy in New Orleans.

Is? Was? After these past two weeks, who knows?

I can't even imagine.

As I publish this post, the Dixie Chicks are singing a song called "I Hope." That's about the only thing I can do.

I hope for peace, blessings, kindness, and most importantly healing. You are all in my prayers.

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