These Too Are The People That Make America Great


The day Hurricane Harvey struck the coast of East Texas I was going into surgery for pancreas cancer and the “Whipple” Operation at St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa Florida.. Hardly an ominous name yet brutal. I was being watched over by angels, the doctors and nurses are beyond remarkable.

As I watched Ed Lavandera, CNN, who I had met years ago, become the face of the press for four days non-stop it became in a minuscule way just a little more personal. Ed is a big man with a big heart and he was pushed to the limits of physical exhaustion, pulling people into CNN's small boat as he exposed himself to all of the dangers that the first responders walked into without hesitation: electrocution, toxic water, deceptive currents that might look like a foot of water, yet can swallow a truck in seconds.

Even at seventy I had never witnessed such an incredible sight, the heartland of the west cried out and they came by the thousands in air boats, flatboats, kayaks, anything that would float and they kept coming, an armada of every race towards one purpose : to save as many lives as possible. It seemed to me that America has always been great and nothing will bring out that greatness faster that a huge calamity, whether an attack by a foreign enemy or a storm of unimaginable proportions. Americans unite without thinking, they come by the thousands. They do not stop, they have one thought : we will save you, our children, brothers and sisters. America has not grown weak, its strength hides behind every ear of corn, every stalk of wheat. It is in the shadows of our factories and the bricks beneath our feet.

And the press: from a small woman in a pink raincoat that seemingly might be blown into the next county to reporters with nothing but jeans and T-Shirts, thrown into the cold, stinging rain in haste, they all stood their ground and their faces will forever be part of that epic moment. Even the impeccable Anderson Cooper has found himself under falling bombs, nobody escapes by rank, all are put in death's path, nobody quits. I think the President owes them all a huge apology. Social media, the power of the press, what a loss if they were not available for us, but they will always be there, these brave souls.

The scenes of one of our great cities, underwater for as far as the eye can see, its interstates turned into rivers of whitecaps, will be looked on for decades as the greatest picture of the American spirit springing to life without thought of self, without guidelines, courage without limits.

I believe over the next few years, Texas, our Lone Star State, will set the example in courage and bravery. Texas is part of the backbone of America, the ranchers that ride the high country, the farmers that farm the mid west, the bread basket of America. It is a hard and rugged life yet to them it is life, sprung from generations ago. We in the great cities go to the grocery, they are the grocery. You don't mess with Texas. Enough said.

So shed no tears for Houston, they have enough already. Send what you can, send them all you can. Send them hope, send them prayers.



Robert Straley