I have friends and family that live in Vermont, both sides of the state and in the middle which makes me listen a little more carefully when the news comes on with something about that state. Of course, the recent storm – Irene – has caused me to focus a lot of attention to the Northeast. Like many people, I was shocked to see so much flooding in Vermont and the extent of the damages there. It is sad to think of three of the old, picturesque bridges gone, the beautiful streams rushing through the valleys carrying debris and, unfortunately, apparently some bodies of still-missing victims.
I called several of my friends this morning to check up on them, just to reassure myself that they were okay. One of my friends who lives just out of Waitsfield, Vermont, was telling me of the community spirit they were witnessing. The river on the edge of their little town jumped it’s banks and brought mud flows through the town leaving several homes and businesses in despair, including one of the local restaurants.
Much to everyone’s surprise, people started showing up with scoops, heavy earth-moving equipment, power washers, brooms, water hoses, rubber gloves and a sense of unity as they pitched in to help the local citizenry restore what could be restored. She told of teenagers washing all of the dishes from the restaurant in a Clorox solution, drying them and carefully packing them into clean boxes to be carried back to the restaurant which was being cleaned by others. Furniture was carried outside and power washed, while others cleaned the interior of the store.
Down the street from that scene were others trying to help an antique dealer clean up his stock, removing the dirt, mud and debris and restoring everything to as nearly perfect as it was prior to the raging floods.
My friend, her daughter and others realized that those working so hard in the town would need food. Each of them went to their pantries, freezers and cabinets and started making sandwiches and lemonade which they carted to the workers in town. Soon everyone was fed and back to work.
This is the real America. Friends, neighbors and even strangers helping each other. Not because there is anything in it for them, but because it is the right thing to do. It doesn’t take an edict from Washington, a government study or a specialized program – in fact, it works better when Washington stays out of it. Let America be America. We’ll help each other and we’ll help the world as well with nothing expected other than a thank you and maybe a hug. No programs needed – May God Bless America.