I would guess that most people in this country don’t know who you are. But I do. I’m a longtime subscriber to National Geographic magazine. The articles are great and informative and surprising. But truth be told, I subscribe for the photography. A picture is worth a thousand words…or feelings. That’s why I’m writing you today.
I live in North Carolina, the state with the second highest occurrences of hurricanes, right behind Florida. I lived here in 1996 when Hurricane Fran made landfall. It was a category 3 hurricane but moved onto land with such velocity that it brought incredibly high powered winds to my landlocked city and caused an impressive amount of damage. It was devastating. The city shut down. Some areas were without power for as long as 3 weeks. The clean-up effort took well over a year.
Flash forward to 2005. Hurricane Katrina, also a category 3 storm, hit the Gulf Coast devastating areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. Over 1800 people lost their lives and more than 63,000 residents were displaced by the storm. People scattered all over the United States, especially to the state of Texas. Your state.
I read an article many years ago in National Geographic about the devastating impact of the hurricane and the disastrous aftermath. I have forgotten who the author was or even what the pertinent details were in the article. But I never forgot the picture of you.
I saved this picture of you because, in it, I saw selfless compassion. I saw complete surrender to the human spirit. I saw someone with a face of calm and strength at the same time. I saw someone who didn’t care about race, color, creed, or even socioeconomic status. You embody the spirit of compassion that I wish we could all practice every day.
As I was searching for another clipping in my mess of a nightstand drawer, I found your photo. And I just thought I would tell you that you are an everyday hero to me. In times where we are again facing an epic disaster on the Gulf Coast, you remind me that the human spirit is full of resolve and that we need to learn to take care of each other.
Be sure to read the follow up in Amanda Writes Back.