Hominy & Hash
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
OTTERBEIN, Ind. - Over Labor Day weekend, I started writing a letter to my unborn granddaughter due the Ninth of September. I had written such for her older sister and now it was time for Abbie Rose to have some wisdom of the ages passed along. She has my genes, we have shared DNA, so why not my philosophies, my ethics?
However, while I'm poised for the calm that comes with waxing poetic, I'm also watching the greatest natural disaster faced by our country in all its history unfold in front of me on a large screen TV in a living room where sun floods through the windows and there's barely a breeze to disturb our comfort.
My comfort is definitely disturbed. I never do go back to my letter to Abbie. I had things to do, thoughts to ponder over exactly what I could do to help these desperate men, women and children struggling to keep going and having no idea where going will take them.
The babies in neonatal units are evacuated leaving parents behind. In the days ahead I will learn of reunions of parents, children, siblings, pets - but I don't know that yet.
Then, here comes Rev. Jesse Jackson and he finally serves a purpose: He takes my mind off the disaster while he figuratively plays cards. He is holding the "race card" and that makes his a losing hand.
I place my hand on the screen and shout at the television set: "Talk to the hand, Jesse, you're losing this game. If you want to be a winner to your people and the other ones you don't even count, then grab a broom or join a bucket brigade."
With chaos all around him, he starts correcting the reporters who say "refugees," as a defining name for those seeking refuge. "Refuge" means a safe harbor, Jesse. That means a sanctuary, Jesse. That means shelter, Jesse. It is not a degrading term for those seeking all of the above.
Comments like his, as well as rapper Kanye West's saying President George Bush doesn't like blacks, is such an insult to all the volunteers who work so indefatigably lifting, holding, swimming in filth toward those who can't make it to safety alone.
Jesse Jackson rose in the public eye as a Civil Rights spokesman but to my mind the boy from the Bread Basket days and the Rainbow Coalition has only sought personal gratification ever since. Others may see it differently and find his intentions honorable, but he's no Martin Luther King.
King espoused peace with words of peace; Jesse uses words that agitate, that rile up - deliberately so. And they work. They are sound bites repeated for their shock value but this time they are backfiring. We see through his rhetoric while we look at the thousands and thousands of volunteers arriving with their own vans and boats to help evacuate all the stranded.
We don't need Jackson and West to tell us what is meant by what we see and hear; we see it and hear it for ourselves.
There. I've cast enough aspersions toward Jesse Jackson and any others who think help is offered through a selective approach. Or, some say, as a photo op.
Pre-teens had an idea and now are filling backpacks according to their own ages to send to a person of like needs left with nothing of their own. One 11-year old said she hoped the 11-year old who opens it will say, "awesome!" and have use for all the contents. She said, "Giving money to the Red Cross is okay, but we wanted to do more - directly from ourselves."
One day, Abbie Rose will look back on the day she was born and see and hear what we have as the news of the day, this day. Her birthday will always be overshadowed by Hurricane Katrina and by 9/11 - just as I could be guaranteed each year to have a rerun of December 7, 1941.
I begin my notes to my granddaughter:
A baby's birth is always a miracle... and today is no exception. It is September 9, 2005 and Abbie Rose O'Neil entered into the world at 6 lbs 5 and 1/2 ounces ... we are precise. She is 18 1/2 inches "tall," but those figures will change as she lustily latches on to the nipple bringing her sustenance.
Today is the first day of the rest of her life and never has that old cliché offered more. Today is the last day of my life as I've known it and tomorrow is for whatever comes next. Thus, the circle of life keeps spinning … and isn't that good?