There’s no need to recap yesterday for most anyone reading this. Almost all of the people who would take the time to read this already know how bad yesterday was for our state. “I’m sorry for your loss” doesn’t begin to be an adequate response it seems like for those that have lost their homes, belongings, automobiles, and more importantly, friends and family members. Really, I don’t know what to say about yesterday. So, I guess I’ll focus on today, then tomorrow, then next week and so on.
I was just talking with my friend that many of you know, Brad Holland, who resides in NYC now. He texted me early this morning asking about Meg and I, and about people we know. I told him that for the most part, we were among the extremely blessed that had nobody especially close to us lose anything major or suffer any losses of life either. So this afternoon, the comment was made by me, “Yeah. It’s a mess. The way people are acting makes me proud to be from here.” He responded, “Tragedy brings the greatest display of humanity.” *and stop to let that sink in*
In my 32 years, I would say that’s pretty true. I think back to 9/11, to Hurricane Katrina, to Hurricane Ivan and Opal that hit here, and now to yesterday. Ever since last night, Facebook and Twitter feeds have been dominated by people communicating primarily about how to help others or help they need, and a lot of prayer requests. Today on the sports radio shows, there was hardly any sports talk whatsoever. There was only talk of reuniting families that were split up, helping coordinate relief efforts, guiding volunteers, etc. It’s primarily raised a few thoughts that I wanted to share with you.
1. How precious is the life I have right now? More than it was yesterday and that’s sad to me. What is it that keeps me from being able to maintain the perspective daily, that my life is precious and should be lived everyday to its fullest extent. My heart goes out to those families and friends of the unfortunate ones that didn’t make it through yesterdays events. One guy on Finebaum said today that his aunt passed away protecting her daughter, who was pregnant, from debris. He said it made it a little easier because “she didn’t die in vain.” The baby and her daughter will both live. So, after seeing the losses of yesterday, I should quit taking my time here for granted like it’s owed to me, and be thankful. I should make the most out of it. I doubt any of those who lost loved ones will read this, but if it helps any, the loss of your friend or family member, may very well help me to live my life more fully. I know that doesn’t make it easier on you. I just simply have been inspired by that loss of life and for that, in my life, it wasn’t in vain.
2. So many things that I worry about and get upset about are petty and stupid. I get upset about the dumbest crap that has no bearing on my life next week, tomorrow and probably not in the next 2 minutes. Stop. Be grateful and positive. Keep “life” in perspective Reagan. Again, it’s sad that it takes something like yesterday or some other tragic event to slap me across the face and make me realize this stuff.
3. It’s beautiful to see the human spirit in full swing. Really, it’s simply touching and humbling. We live in a state with the fiercest rivalry in NCAA college football history. Again, I know I don’t have to explain the Iron Bowl or the ferocity of it to anyone. However, when some idiot from Dadeville decided to kill something very special to Auburn fans, the best the Crimson Tide had to offer was shown in sympathy and it was touching. Now, it’s Auburn’s chance to return the favor. It has been truly remarkable to see what our fans have been capable of through tragedy. At one point just a few months ago, the country was laughing at us for how we are about college football. They were saying it’s out of hand. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t know. But here’s what I do know. It makes me very proud of both of these fine institutions to see how they respond. As I said yesterday, it reminds me of old cartoons like Transformers with Optimus Prime and Megatron, or He-Man and Skeletor, or even Dragonball Z with Goku and Vegeta (yes, I did watch it) when they had a common foe. They would put aside their differences and realize they’re a force to be reckoned with when they work together. People say that they don’t have any respect for the other school in the rivalry….well there are plenty of us that do and it’s being shown now. It’s not just about football but about being fellow human beings and citizens of this great state.
Those are just a few of the many thoughts this tragedy has spurred in my mind. One last one has been about ways to help. As many of you know I’ve been unemployed for 3 months and so money is tight in our household. So, to any of the other hundreds and thousands just like me, remember, there are lots of ways to help.
1. Give Blood- LifeSouth has centers set up all over the place. I went to the Brookwood Hospital location today and it was a little small but they have their buses and other, larger locations up and running so, go to www.lifesouth.org to find out where and when you can help. They’ve declared an emergency to please donate if you can. I know it’s not money, but your blood is very valuable and a very precious resource.
2. Also, go to www.handsonbirmingham.org and sign up to be a Tornado Volunteer. Basically, they’re coordinating with local and state authorities to create opportunities for people like us that can get our hands dirty. They’ll notify you when a chance to help comes available.
3. The tornado that came through and created so much devastation started outside of Tuscaloosa and went all the way into Georgia. So, just keep in mind that there are people in a wide path all across our state that needs help. Having lived in a small community, I’ve seen hurricanes come through and devastate our town. It’s hard when you’re a small town to recover when resources (workers, food, water, etc.) are more limited than they are in larger towns and cities. They don’t have the resources, manpower, or the attention that larger cities get, so please, look to smaller towns like Phil Campbell, that was virtually wiped off the map also.
4. Make yourself available to pick up items that people want to donate and take them places like drop-off centers or to neighborhoods individually that need it. Some people want to donate food, water, blankets, and toiletries but don’t have a means or the time to get it where it needs to go so you can help with that too.
5. If you have money and no time or are physically unable to contribute in that manner, that’s awesome and needed so much too but remember, sadly enough, this is a time that some people run scams to get your money. Be very careful about who you give your money, especially cash, to. The organizations like www.redcross.org, http://alabamapossible.org/2011/04/tornado-relief-how-you-can-help/, www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/www_usn_2.nsf/vw-local/Ways-to-give, and local churches are a great way to know that your money will be used in the best way possible. Also, these institutions are trained responders and relief agents so they know how to make your dollar go the farthest.
6. Pray. This is a simple but powerful tool that we all have at our disposal. I don’t pretend to know why things happen but I do whole-heartedly believe that God wants to help. So, simply pray. Pray for comfort, for peace, for help, for guidance, etc. for the individuals who have been touched by this problem. If you’ll email me prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org, I will pray and also pass them along to others.
Fellow Alabamians, we may not rank well in education ratings, or in other objective ranking systems across the country. We may have a tainted history from the 60’s and still have our struggles to this day with certain issues. We may have a rivalry in this state that makes others in this country think we are backwards. But I tell you this, in times of tragedy and heartache, grief and loss, there are no other people who I would want to experience that with. We have proven time and time again that the human spirit of people in this state is second to none. We know how to fight, how to care, and how to roll up our sleeves and get dirty rebuilding. So, as we move on in the next couple days, remember we are in this all together.
We may not be the smartest, or the skinniest, and we may like football too much, and eat too many fried foods, but, you can’t put a number on or measure this state’s fighting spirit and I’ll be damned if we aren’t one of the most resilient states in the union. So, let’s show our world and country and mother nature what we’re made of and demonstrate what it means to be from the GREAT STATE OF ALABAMA! ROLL TIDE ROLL AND WAR DAMN EAGLE!
and always remember in times of adversity….
Kites Rise Highest Against the Wind
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