Today is a day for reflection and remembrance. We say goodbye to the senator and we reflect on the four year anniversary of a storm making landfall early in the morning — storm called Katrina which changed everything in a city and a region. While the senator’s passing did not change my life directly, I’ve realized that during my life there has never been a time when a Kennedy has not held an office of great power and influence. I think about my mom who was a child of the Great Depression. She was born in 1916. She cared deeply about the Kennedys because for her the held out a beacon of hope. She was able to see past the family’s sturm und drang and find the deeper message. Watching the Kennedy family greet the people as they came to pay their respects, reminded me of one of my most influential teachers at Ohio University; Chuck Scott. He is a legend. When I was there, his wife passed during spring break. We thought enough of him that we returned to Ohio early to attend the funeral. As we left, Chuck greeted each one of us, shook our hands and told us to keep smiling. This, from a man who had just buried his childhood sweetheart. Hope.
Then, there is the storm. I was just in New Orleans. What I saw was encouraging. The city is not yet “back.” It may never return as it was. But, there are “green shoots” everywhere. Make it Right is doing good work in The Lower Ninth Ward. The people who lost their homes to 15 feet of water in Lakeview are building again. Sure, there are plenty of boarded up houses and empty lots. But, it’s about progress, not perfection. But, on a day like today, I remember what it felt like to evacuate. I remember, closing the storm shutters, locking the doors and thinking, “we’ll be back in a week.” I never lived in that house again. I remember driving 50 miles in eight hours. I remember the storm passing through Baton Rouge and losing power. I remember thinking that we’d made it. I remember the power coming back on, turning on CNN and watching the flood waters pour into the city and thinking, “oh, my God.”
Do these two events — the senator’s passing and the storm making landfall link? Certainly. They are about government. They are about the best and the worst of our government. Government, at all levels failed during the aftermath of the storm. But, as the senator showed us, there can be great hope and compassion found the the halls of congress.
The picture. I had no idea what to publish. Then I stumbled upon this picture from The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Balloons always make me smile. They are bright. They are colorful. They are generally quiet as they float along high above the earth. Peaceful. Then there is the moment. This is dawn patrol. A new day. A new way. We carry on.