Americans are a sturdy lot. We are not a perfect nation and lately the things that divide us seem to be getting way too much attention. Despite this unfortunate truth, experience has shown us that what binds us as a people is greater than what divides us. Never is this more evident than in times of national crisis.
During WW II 85 million people out of a population of 139 million people bought US Bonds to support the war effort. The total cost of the war was estimated to be 340 billion in 1940 dollars; a staggering 50% of that cost was covered by bond sales. During that war Americans tolerated and actually enthusiastically embraced rationing, conservation, recycling and massive civic engagement at every level of society; transforming our nation on an unprecedented scale. The end result was not only the defeat of the Axis powers, but the emergence of the most productive economy the world has ever known. Why that tradition of civic engagement didn’t carry over to modern day wars can be the subject of future musings, the point here is that when called upon to common purpose, Americans respond to breathtaking effect.
In the first two years following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina over two million volunteers headed to the Gulf Coast giving up weekends, holidays and vacation time to help rebuild the region. It’s estimated that in the first year following the Katrina disaster private donations totaled over 2.7 billion dollars.
One of the things worth admiring about this country is that when disaster strikes we stop being Democrats, Republicans, White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Red State, Blue State, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Liberal or Conservative; and we remember who we are first and foremost – Americans.
Sandy will likely go down in history as one of the most destructive storms on record inflicting an estimated 5.5 billion dollars in damage. 10 million people were left without power, 160 dead and many more injured and left homeless. In New Jersey, entire towns were swallowed up by water. In Breezy Point, New York fires destroyed at least 111 homes. This was a storm of historic proportions, devastating the lives and property of countless Americans.
FEMA has wasted little time providing aid to the region and early accounts of the government’s response to this disaster has been very positive. First responders have done an amazing job getting help to those who need it most. And as we have seen before, the response of aid workers and public servants has been nothing short of heroic. However, as in most disasters of this scale, government and aid workers cannot manage this alone. It’s hard to wrap our minds around the impact Sandy had had on so many caught in the aftermath of this unprecedented super storm. Some of us may have close friends, and family members who are suffering because of Sandy. It doesn’t matter really, if we know them well or not. We know them, they are our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens; they are Americans and they need our help.
Here’s what you can do to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 the Red Cross Disaster Relief. Or click here to donate and learn more about Red Cross relief efforts: http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy