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Post Script on Harvey’s “Beauty”

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Picture taken near Houston at height of flooding. The horse was rescued.

I am posting an article about rescue efforts that is on The American Thinker blog today. It is written by a volunteer who worked in the Dallas center for flood victims. Distance between those cities is 240 miles. (

What I Saw in the Floodwaters of Houston

By Hugh Reynolds

John Nolte’s superb article in Breitbart, “Houston Proves Everything the MSM Says about Our ‘Divided’ Country Is a Lie” (September 4, 2017) prompted me to tell my own story.  My family and I spent many hours in early September helping out at the “Mega-Shelter” for flood victims in downtown Dallas.  What I experienced there was like nothing I have ever seen.

The Responders and the Services

The response of Texans, and Americans from all across the country, to the catastrophic Houston flooding proves the power and resilience of the human spirit.  The magnitude of the logistics, the care, and yes, the love, is beyond extraordinary.  I know.  I have seen it.

Dozens of organizations virtually built a small city almost overnight in a space the size of 10-12 football fields.  Evacuees from the floodwaters in Southeast Texas came in by the hundreds, then by the thousands.  Hundreds of volunteers rushed in from nearly every state.

The Red Cross set up 5,000 cots and provided people who had lost almost everything with blankets, toiletries, showers, laundry service, child care, relocation and job counseling, and many other services.  Salvation Army volunteers fed everyone, including volunteers, three meals a day.  Volunteers from churches brought in water, juice, snacks, clothing, pillows, and other essentials.  Children were provided school clothes, toys, books, puppet shows, and supervised play areas.  Chaplains were giving out Bibles and providing spiritual comfort.

A small hospital was put together, including units for triage, primary and acute care, and stocked with all necessary medical equipment and supplies.  Scores of doctors, nurses, and other medical staff worked shifts lasting anywhere from eight to eighteen hours.  Medical services included mental health counseling, social work, and transport to other medical centers for dialysis and other critical needs.

Walmart established a fully stocked pharmacy for critical prescription needs like insulin and heart medication.  HEB set up a store providing food, clothing, and other personal items at no charge.  Evacuees were given free transportation to the Dallas Zoo, Six Flags Over Texas, outdoor movies, museums, and other cultural attractions.  I even saw a small boy getting a haircut in a makeshift barber shop.

Texas National and State Guard, local police, firefighters, and EMT personnel, and other first responders, were there to provide security and safety, while checking evacuees in and out of the building.  Janitorial staff worked around the clock to keep the shelter clean and free of trash.  Emergency management volunteers performed countless duties to ensure that the flood victims had whatever they needed.  FEMA was there for logistical, equipment, and financial support.  The VA was on hand to serve the needs of veterans.  The administrative record-keeping needed to keep track of victims, volunteers, services, and supplies was immense.

Personal Observations

I came in with other volunteers representing the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a nationwide network of citizen volunteers organized at the local level and associated with fire or police departments.  My assignments consisted of escorting evacuees through the relief center with their few belongings; helping families navigate the huge facility; getting them settled into assigned sleeping spaces; acting as a runner for their various personal needs; and, unexpectedly, becoming a prayer partner.

I met volunteers from Massachusetts, Arizona, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, and many other states and Texas cities.  I worked with hundreds of people who had interrupted their lives and come from distant places to help others in need.

I encountered one young lady who had suddenly decided to put her personal business on hold, get on a plane, and fly from Milwaukee to Dallas just to see if she could help.  She had stepped out in faith into the unknown, and we caught her gently in God’s safety net as she fell into a strange and unimaginable world of human need, hardship, and suffering.  We gave her a quick tour, taught her to improvise, provided her with whirlwind training, and immersed her into shelter life.  She found a calling and confidence to pursue a life of service.  She also found herself giving and receiving unanticipated blessings.

As I walked the floor (which I estimated to be the size of 10 to 12 football fields), I found that many people just needed someone to listen to their stories and maybe hold their hands.  I saw families and single mothers with two, four, or even six children, including newborns.  I spoke to people who had been separated from families or had no one else in the world.  I prayed with elderly and handicapped people and became friends with an elderly man with no legs in a wheelchair who always had a smile for me.  I procured small stuffed animals and toys for dozens of small children and babies.  I was rewarded with tiny smiles and blessed to hold little hands.

I have been amazed by the courage and hope and faith in God displayed by these victims who did not behave like “victims.”  They kept up their spirits and told their stories and, in very profound ways, ministered to me and other volunteers.  Yes, there was some tension and tribulation, and there were some tears, but I saw miracles of strength and hope, and I love every hour I was there.

Finally, I met a woman who spent 14 hours in chest-deep water in her home – holding her family bible over her head the whole time – before she was rescued.  She thought her son had drowned but had learned that he had also been rescued.  He was later brought to the Dallas shelter, and they were reunited.  We shared stories with each other and read scriptures from the Bible she had rescued.  We laughed, we cried, and we hugged.  I was blessed to meet this sister in Christ.

Funny: I didn’t see anyone there from Black Lives Matter, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic Party, Hollywood libs, or any other social justice warriors out there helping the thousands of black families who had lost everything in the flood.  No one but us heartless Christians, conservatives, and other deplorables.

The liberal newspapers and TV networks can continue to try to divide us, call us racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, white supremacists, fascists, and worse.  Let the leftist professors and their student “snowflakes” in the universities whine and cry about “micro-aggressions” and “trigger warnings.”  Let them take offense at every imagined “politically incorrect” comment and run for their “safe spaces” and riot in the streets.

Meanwhile, real Americans – men and women of every race, ethnicity, nationality, and faith – came together and proved them wrong every day through our relief efforts.  Almost overnight in Dallas, and in many other relief shelters in Texas and other states, compassionate Americans built truly safe spaces for thousands of our brothers and sisters and their children in desperate need.

And these disaster victims blessed us every day with their broken but beautiful lives.

Hugh Reynolds recently retired from 32 years in federal service.  He spent his entire government career in the “fraud, waste, and abuse” business, including 18 years auditing that beleaguered enterprise known as the U.S. Postal Service, which survives without a dime of the taxpayer’s money.  He is a lifelong student of public policy and considers himself an American Thinker.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/10/what_i_saw_in_the_floodwaters_of_houston.html#ixzz4vfmLdGu8
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Loyalty Is Beautiful

This video tells the story of Francis Scott Keys penning the words to

our national anthem at the end of the War of 1812,

our second and final war of independence from Great Britain.  

Although filled with people of different nationalities and belief systems, the United States has a distinctive outlook and presence on the world’s stage. As each wave of immigrants arrived in this land and became citizens, they enriched the American culture in distinctive ways through customs, foods, habits, and attitudes.  For example, our “comfort” food after almost 250 years now includes chili, cornbread, pizza, corned beef, barbecue, chow mien, sushi, and more. And people of all national origins buy, cook, and eat out at restaurants specializing in food from each country as well as the newer “fusion” establishments that combine differing culinary tastes into one dish.

The binding agent for all of our diverse backgrounds is loyalty to a belief system embodied in the Declaration of Independence. As G. K. Chesterton, an Englishman, once observed,  the United States was the only country ever founded on a creed. Thus, every time the national anthem is played and/or the flag is unfurled, citizens stand to honor the memory of those who lost their lives giving us the freedoms that we now enjoy. It’s a simple, public way to reaffirm our commitment to continue the exemplary ideal of  “liberty and justice for all.”**

Needless to say, neither the people nor the politicians have always lived up to our goals. Every American that I know is heart sick about these failures and tries to correct them. But despite our flaws, we have done well enough that our current major problem is the hordes of people sneaking into the country to live here without understanding our history, our goals, or the loyalty required of citizens to keep US the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Loyalty to an ideal can bind families and groups of all origins and sizes together, empowering them to accomplish more greatness than any one person can possibly do alone. Loyalty to excellence is both beautiful and powerful. May all countries and all peoples embrace it.

 

        The Star Spangled Banner

  1. Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

    What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,

    Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

    O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

    And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

    Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.

    Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

  2. On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep,

    Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

    What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

    Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

    In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;

    ’Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave

    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

  3. Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand

    Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!

    Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land

    Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!

    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

    And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”

    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

                             

                                     Text: Francis Scott Key, 1779–1843

                                     Music: John Stafford Smith, 1750–1836

**This explains the distress we experience when we see a group that refuses to honor or acknowledge our flag and anthem, but does nothing to solve problems instead of just complaining about them. 

 

 

 

More on Sophia Loren’s Beauty

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Sophia Loren in 2016.

On September 20, 2017, she was 83.

 

She would have never been silent, even to a powerful Hollywood mogul. For example:

“Being Marlon Brando didn’t help, either, according to a movie-star anecdote I have picked up somewhere. He is said to have groped Sophia Loren, during a film shoot many years ago. She set him straight crisply. By the time she was finished with him, the megastar was reduced to a whipped little boy. He behaved much better to everyone on set, after this humiliation.

Now, this Dama di Gran Croce is a real woman, in my estimation, not a Hollywood tart. After learning of this offstage performance with Brando, I could only cry, “Brava!” Put the little creature in his place!”

And I add that she was beautiful to stand up for herself, for other women, for good manners, and for the moral good in society. To  young people everywhere, I beg you to make such situations beautiful by refusing all vulgar, coercive suggestions.

from “On Women and Power” by David Warren, The Catholic Thing, October 13, 2017

 

Kierkegaard on Beauty

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Adversity draws men together and produces

beauty and harmony in life’s relationships,

just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers

on the window panes, which vanish with the warmth.

Soren Kierkegaard

     There have been far fewer pictures on the Internet of people helping people with Irma than there were with Harvey. It’s probably because there has been such a huge problem with power and Internet capabilities. I have heard of many beautiful stories about people graciously offering their homes to strangers in need, repairing a neighbor’s generator, and sharing the precious gas supplies in the early aftermath, but have found almost no pictures. Lots of hard work to be done, but, in many situations, people have graciously risen to demands of the situation with a generosity that inspires us all.

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Even More Beauty in Houston

TheseHouston residents are NOT standing in line the day after the rain stopped to get a free meal or to register for monetary help. No, they have lined up to volunteer. So many showed up that first morning, they had to turn people away. This is  the real, everyday, hometown America. Pay no attention to the staged riots showing up frequently on the airwaves while news readers insist we are hopelessly divided.

This is another view of the same early morning line.

Beauty from Harvey

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Volunteer leads the way

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Woman and baby rescued from freeway

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Whoever needs help, gets it from whomever is available

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Fifteen-year-olds using dad’s boat and their energy to help neighbors

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This man and his boat were busy all day helping anyone needing to be rescued

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A flotilla of volunteers working during the rain to help neighbors and strangers

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Some came from Louisiana and some from Waco, Texas to spend their time, money, energy, and equipment to save the lives of strangers.

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Using whatever you can find to do the job at hand

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US Coast Guard coming inland to offer their services

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Pets are not left either

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Look closely – this is a cattle drive through town to pasture on higher ground

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Life is always more important than mere possessions

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Even beer companies shut down the usual production lines to produce free cans of drinking water to send to the flood areas in a far away state

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After twelve frantic hours of rescuing scared, stranded people, you rest wherever and whenever you can find a spot

 

 

Are War Movies Beautiful?

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While re-creating the fear and uncertainty that the English and French forces faced during the 1940 Dunkirk rescue, hardly elicits cries of “beautiful movie,” there is something admirable in the 2017 hit, Dunkirk. It’s not beauty of form so much as it is beauty of attitude portrayed by most of the men involved.

After 77 years, very few adults today even remember the story and fewer still have read about it. Dunkirk represented a severe loss for allied troops; thus even the World War II historians appear to have forgotten to mention it.

For those of us with fond memories of the grandfathers, fathers, and uncles who were members of The Greatest Generation, the movie reestablishes their “can-do” attitude as a beacon of light for us and for our children. Few men relished either the war or the Dunkirk project, but soldier and civilian alike performed diligently anyway – simply because it needed to be done. Would that we all will aspire to their example of selflessness.

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Since I saw the movie, I’ve read a couple of reviews about all that it left out. Frankly, I disagree. It was, after all, a world war involving many countries, many notables, many armies, navies, and air forces, and many, many stories of valor, as well as cowardice. I think they were wise to concentrate on only one thing – survival and rescue in June 1940. If I had the money to back a movie, I’d concentrate on the civilians who used their fishing boats to liberate over 300,000 men in a few days. And then there are all the other battles and other leaders who still have not been covered adequately either in book or movie.

I will say that at times during the movie, I wished for a flow chart or something to keep up with characters who kept appearing in different scenes. I don’t know if that is my own deficiency or if it were planned that way to make viewers want to see it again. I do want to see it again in a few weeks because I’m sure that I’ll get even more out of it the second time around.

In the meantime, I will read the book upon which it is based: Dunkirk by Joshua Levine. As I’ve said for years, “The book is always better.”