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The Gross National Debt

Saturday, September 17, 2005
Americans are Too Good for their President

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

Just shy of three weeks since hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf, wreaking havoc on particularly Lousiana and Mississippi, tales of common heroism are emerging as a bright spot in what has otherwise been a bleak and desolate event in American history.

I have been unable to turn away from the tales of human tragedy and suffering. I know that there are literally millions of other Americans out there who feel the same way. I don't remember a time when I felt so impotent - so totally hamstrung by my lack of proximity to the region and my inability to do more than donate money and write letters to my Senators and Congressman and the President of the United States himself.

There is so much that can be written about what went wrong - speculation is endless as to how many lives were sacrificed to bureaucratic ineptitude and the failure of the Federal government to step up and honor its solemn responsibility to protect and defend American lives. But that's not the focus of this story. I want to put aside talk about the missteps and mistakes that failed American people in their time of need and focus on the common acts of everyday heroism that this disaster inspired.

I'll start first with the Daily Kos community. Starting on Saturday, August 27th, diarist DarkSyde brought us face to face with the potential for tragedy unfolding in the gulf region. As a community, we embraced DarkSyde's expertise and knowledge and consistently recommended his diaries up the recommended list. We were aware, I think quite early on, of the potential devastation that this storm would yield. It's no surprise, then, that the Daily Kos community realized very soon after the storm's passage that the damage to life and property was catastrophic. In a desperate attempt to start relief flowing to the stricken region, I posted a diary that simply summarized for the Daily Kos community the charitable organizations that were poised to rush relief to the region. In one week, Kossacks reported a whopping total of $15,161.08 donated to the charities listed in the diary. That total doesn't even approach the total received from Kossacks - it was only a total of those who self-reported their donations. Each of you who answered the call, either through donation or through getting up from where you were and heading down there or down to a shelter that you knew had been organized in your community or who answered the call to volunteer your time - each is an uncelebrated hero of the Katrina disaster. Your hearts were vast and deep beyond measure in the face of human suffering.


Another stand-out organization is the United States Coast Guard. As early as Monday night after the storm blew through (8/29), US Coast Guard personnel were in their helicopters and flying into storm and flood devastated areas trying to locate survivors.

US Coast Guard personnel rescue stranded people on August 29th after hurricane Katrina

TheIndyChannel.com reports that the Coast Guard has rescued over 6,500 victims of hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region and their efforts continue to this day.

US Coast Guard personnel continue to search for survivors of hurricane Katrina on September 14th


42-year old San Diego resident and energy company executive David Perez felt so compelled to do something to help victims of hurricane Katrina that he chartered a jet (at a personal expense of $250,000) to go to Baton Rouge and bring out 82 people who lost everything to hurricane Katrina.

A distraught evacuee is comforted by Red Cross volunteers on arrival in San Diego

"I'm providing people an opportunity to get out of hell, and I was willing to take them anywhere they wanted to go," said Perez.


Who can forget RobertInWisconsin's diary about Edgar Hollingsworth.

California National Guard troops rescue Edgard Hollingsworth from certain death

The California National Guard troops had been specifically instructed that they were not to break into houses as they attempted to locate any unlikely survivors - they could merely call out, knock and look in windows. Thank God that they didn't follow orders on this occasion. They broke into the home and rescued Hollingsworth, a fellow American and a human soul, from the grips of death. Countless National Guard troops are repeating similar acts of heroism, risking their lives and safety to find survivors and bring them to safety.


Texas Oil Tycoon Boone Pickens (no, I'm not making this up) chartered a Contintntal Airlines flight to airlift 80 dogs from Louisiana to temporary foster homes in San Diego and San Fracisco. Dubbed "Operation Pet Lift", Pickens spent $50,000 to charter the jet in an effort to airlift 200 pets out of the region. Sadly, bureaucracy allowed only 80 to be airlifted.

Continental Airlines volunteer flight attendants care for the animals of "Operation Pet Lift"


There are too many stories for me to find them and document them properly here. I know that I have seen coverage on both CNN and MSNBC about the following:


Countless stories of common heroism arise from the hurricane Katrina disaster. I found myself wondering earlier today if I would have acted heroically had I been in the area when disaster struck. Would I risk my life to save my neighbor? Would I go until exhaustion or death overcame me to do my part to save every soul still living? I hope so. Seeing all of these stories has been inspirational to me in a time when I have had deeply dark feelings about our government and the state of the country which I so dearly love. These stories have pulled me back from the precipice and I had to take the opportunity to really acknowledge and highlight the common decency of everyday people. Heroes walk among us - every day.

The title of the diary is somewhat misleading in that this is not a rant against George W. Bush or his Republican administration. But in considering each of these people, and groups of people, it was evident that our President doesn't deserve the quality and caliber of the average American whom he leads. They are, to a person, too good for him.

Please share any stories that you have heard about heroism or exeptional acts of self-sacrifice in the Katrina disaster, and thanks for reading.

posted by RenaRF at 3:47 PM 2 comments links to this post


Anonymous jamal said...

They sure are too good for Bush. But only those that do not support racism or the war in Iraq anyhow!

Opinionated Voice

5:00 PM  
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