Thursday, February 05, 2009

Storm Soldiers

Storms are temporary; the effects are long-lasting.

A year ago this evening, while the rest of the nation was deciphering the results of the Super Tuesday presidential primary, the good folks here at the northern end of southern nowhere were digging out from under the debris left behind by a tornado. Some crawled out from under fallen sheet rock to find that their homes, some that had stood shelter and sentinel for over a century, were completely gone. The timber-felled swath of the storm is still a vivid scar across the hills and bottoms on a line stretching for miles. Here on Eegeebeegee, the Colonel has a dozen felled trees yet to render useful with a chainsaw. Pieces of tin and former house trim still reveal themselves to be picked up on my daily security patrols.

In its wake the tornado created a sort of rural renewal. New, modern, homes replaced the older homes erased by the wind. The community, close-knit as country can be, formed a tighter weave of care and inclusion--even the Colonel and Miss Brenda, the ultimate outsiders, found our threads pulled into the whole cloth of country clan. It is a welcome embrace.

One of our neighbors is hosting a party this evening in the new home that replaced the old farm house swept aside a year ago. My guess is it will not be a pity party. Rather, the Colonel is quite sure it will be more of a victory celebration. These people here in the hills of north Mississippi are real Americans, with spine and grit and good humor. When the storm scoured them clean last February, they immediately went to work rebuilding on the cleared spaces. Their sorrow for loss was short-lived. They didn't wait for someone from the government to bail 'em out of their troubles. They rolled up their sleeves, pulled together as a community, and put their own lives back in order.

If the re-United States doesn't survive the current mess, the Tallahatchie Free State will. Maybe the Colonel can reprise the role of Baron von Stuben.
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