A Republic Tested: What Hurricane Harvey taught us

I had a dear friend of mine tell me the other day about people coming together in Texas during Hurricane Harvey, helping each other, looking out for each other. She wanted to show everyone how Texans take care of their own. Now she is a proud Texas lady and I love her dearly…salt of the earth, but her comment made me think…..was this really about Texas, and the only answer I could come up with is, no. The answer that I did come up with in my mind, however, is, I believe, far more heartening.

Coast Guard rescues infant in Hurricane aftermath in Houston. Photo: Redditt

When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, the one thing that you can always count on is that it will immediately lay bare the good and the bad in people, and Houston was no different. The good rallied from everywhere; They came from Louisiana as the “Cajun Navy” with their camo and boats hauled by pick up trucks with, “Proud to be a Redneck” bumper stickers. They came from nearby Oklahoma and from other areas of the country. They came with boats and paddles, with food and gear. They came with guns and guts, but mostly they came with their hearts and their hands. There were even displaced Northern Yankees like my own son who, even though high and dry and well provisioned, went out every day looking for those who could be helped.

We often forget that Latin phrase which adorns every coin and dollar bill that passes through our hands; E Pluribus Unum, From Many…One! We need to always remind ourselves that we are never in this alone, but always count on the faith, strength, and generosity of others to help us through trying times. We are the United States and when difficult times come to one state, it comes to us all.

Our unity and strength has been strained and tested as of late. With riots and tearing down statues, there will always be those that work to divide us. They are the vocal minority and somehow they are always the loudest voice in the room. They espouse hatred, bigotry, and divisiveness. They mean to shock us with their antisocial behavior and rhetoric, and there are times when we feel that our social fabric is about to unravel, but at the end of the day they are just the same garden variety nonsense that we’ve seen before; remember the sixties?

As Dr. Benjamin Franklin emerged from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1776, someone hollered out to him, “Well Doctor, what have we; a Republic or a Monarchy?” To which Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Harvey came and with it came the strength and unity of the American people. State to state, shoulder to shoulder, we have come together, looked devastation in the eye and beat it back as one people. Harvey was more than a devastating and terrifying storm, it was a message to all who would seek to bring their violent hate and social discontent to our door, any door within these fifty United States; Doctor Franklin’s Republic is alive, well and united and from state to state, and Harvey reminded us that an attack on one, is an attack on us all.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Houston Police SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carrying Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son, Aiden, after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Aug. 27 in Houston. AP photo/David J. Phillip

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