Hard to believe.
At the time, I had all this unfocused anger and hatred; now it's just receded to sadness. I saw on Buzzfeed the other day that "President" Bush was going to be in town for some of the remembrance ceremonies. I didn't click on the story, because I felt I didn't want to dignify the story with any extra clicks.Of course, there are things happening in the Big Easy over the weekend to remember.
New Orleans, a town renowned for staging big celebrations, faces a tricky challenge on Saturday, 10 years to the day from when Hurricane Katrina slammed into southeast Louisiana and triggered flooding that would leave 80 percent of the city under water.
The city wants to recognize the progress it has made in recovering from the most costly storm in U.S. history. Thousands of people are expected to turn out as the city's trademark "second line" parades snake through the streets and New Orleans puts its famous musical traditions on display.
But Saturday is also a time to remember more than 1,500 New Orleanians who were killed by Katrina and its aftermath, and the 130,000 residents who were displaced.
"A celebration would not be the right gesture for those who will never be made whole," said Kristian Sonnier, an official at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. "This is more taking stock and recognizing what we have accomplished and that we have a lot more work to do," he said.
Saturday will cap a week of self-examination that has included panel discussions by urban planners, elected officials, recovery experts, architects and neighborhood leaders.
The day begins early with a wreath-laying ceremony in one of the city's historic above-ground cemeteries, the site of the Hurricane Katrina Memorial. The remains of 83 "forgotten" victims have rested there since 2008, their bodies never claimed by relatives. Mayor Mitch Landrieu will pay tribute to them during a brief service.
Other places that were hard-hit will host memorials as well. At Shell Beach, in lower St. Bernard Parish just east of New Orleans, public officials and residents will gather along a waterway that burst through a levee in 2005 and killed 127 people. The ceremony will feature a reading of the names of victims, now etched into a monument there.
Tributes are slated in the city's Lower Ninth Ward, where surging waters broke a floodwall on the city's Industrial Canal and devastated the entire neighborhood. Similarly, Lakeview, Broadmoor, Mid-City and a host of other areas are looking back on 2005 with mixed emotions.
"There aren't enough words to describe the loss, especially for the people of the Lower Ninth Ward, because the breach that drowned their neighborhood was the worst in the city," said civic activist Sandy Rosenthal on Friday, just after she had walked in a second-line parade through the ward.
The Good Doctor Who, in a recent episode, mentioned that humanity does have one superpower - the ability to forget. Life moves on so quickly that even just a decade later, Katrina is more of something that happened in a history book than in real life. But I knew somebody that lived there; I heard from him once in the days after that he was still alive, and immediately lost contact thereafter. For the residents there, it's a real as yesterday. It's worth taking a brief look back.
As for me, there's something I said five years ago that sums it up best.
Although it was over 1,500 miles from where I am, the disaster was no less devastating. We all watched in horror as the levees broke, the city flooded, and hundreds of Americans drowned in their homes. This isn't supposed to happen in the United States.
But why do I think this was our death knell as a Superpower?
Our status as such was created on July 16, 1945. The US, and the US alone, had the power to destroy the world. But is that really the measure of a Superpower? Through all the years of the cold war, we also looked to help those in need, especially after a disaster.
I think that changed in the 21st Century. It's interesting to note that George W. Bush was elected in the fall of 2000...and his arrogance and complacency led directly to the events of September 11. To the end of my days, I will never forgive him for what he did on September 12. The world was lined up on our doorstep, hat in hand, saying "I'm so sorry....how can we help?" and he turned them away.
History repeated itself for his second term. Was it coincidence that Mr. Bush was re-elected in the fall of 2004....and his arrogance and complacency led directly to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? (Hey now, I won't blame him for the *actual* hurricane, that could have happened on anyone's watch.) Mr. Bush's lack of concern, and indeed, utter callousness toward human life, American lives, changed my perception forever of what a superpower is and what it should do.
We couldn't save our own citizens. We couldn't agree on a rescue plan, we didn't help them for days or weeks, and in the end, New Orleans died.
When a country can't even take care of its own citizens, what right does it have to go around the world, acting like a super-bully, and expecting the rest of the nations to follow heed?
Yes, we can still destroy the world today with our weapons. But is that the true measure of a Superpower?