Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Drifting Lessons

Tens of thousands of Americans were abandoned on a rainy day in August of 2005. Parents, children, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters were left to suffer and die. People who could not escape - due to money or illness or age - had their lives stolen by a merciless storm of wind, water, and human failure, some quickly, some only after agonizing hours or days.

We cannot abandon these families again.

The President, today, said he "takes responsibility" for the problems in our emergency response to Katrina:
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," he said. "And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility.
If only he had taken his responsibility seriously in the beginning, when thousands could have been saved... We can only hope this newfound sense of responsibility means the administration will finally move forward in determining what went wrong. When such a human tragedy takes so many lives, we must do everything in our power to ensure it cannot happen again. We owe the thousands who suffered and died at least that much. Let us hope the President's words are sincere, not hollow PR-speak, designed to put calls for a non-partisan, independent investigation on the back burner. They offer a refreshing sign of hope after a week of accusing those who seek solutions of playing a "blame game:"
Ex-president Bill Clinton, and his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, have been among those calling for an inquiry into the handling of Katrina.

How the different levels of government had reacted to Katrina would be examined, Mr Bush said, but he refused to "play the blame game" and said he wanted to focus on the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the storm.

Dragging our feet on the way to correcting the errors that brought about this terrible tragedy can only lead to more loved ones lost, more pain, and more suffering. We owe it to the living to move forward quickly, to find the solutions that will protect the rest of our precious citizens from a similar fate. Since those who would investigate are not the emergency personnel "on the ground" in the flood zone, there is no urgent need to wait - except perhaps among those afraid of being held accountable.

When our country was attacked on 9/11 the citizens of America came together, with the resounding cry of "never again." We sought the answers to how and why, in hopes of saving future families from the pain and loss wrought by terror. On August 29, 2005, nature was the attacker, and while we have no control over the paths of hurricanes, we do have control over our response. The failures in the wake of Katrina force us to ask again: how and why. As with 9/11, we must find better ways to respond, in hopes of saving future families from the pain and loss wrought by disaster.

America was founded by wise men, who took the time to use the past as a guide for creating a better future. America would not be the great country it is now, if the founding fathers had been willing to let the lessons of the past drift away on the tide of history. We should honor their legacy by turning the lessons of Katrina into a better future for us all.

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