Tuesday, January 04, 2005

What We Learn About Ourselves When Disaster Strikes Others


American Navy flight crewman carries a young injured evacuee yesterday at the airport in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. (AP) Related story.

During my morning commute today I heard this report on NPR (yes, I listen to them when I get bored) that tells us all a lot about who Americans are and what we are made of. In short, U.S. Navy helicopters were trying to reach remote villages and ferry the injured to hospitals, despite shortages of space at the hospitals. Finally, all the receiving hospitals decided they had no more room, and somewhere, some well-meaning and pragmatically-thinking person decided that the pilots should be instructed to stop bringing the wounded.

The pilots could not bring themselves to follow the orders. One helicopter brought over 50 new patients to a hospital. No one punished the pilots for doing so; instead, "Yankee ingenuity" kicked in and a way was found to arrange care for the streams of additional patients. Listen to the story.

Little vignettes like that inspire me and make me proud to be an American. In fact, I'm proud to be associated in any tiny way with such people, be they Americans or Australians. Charles Krauthammer adds a little perspective:

We are six percent or less of the world's population, yet we give almost half.
We are a very small number of people, relatively speaking, and we carry the
weight of a dozen countries. Secondly, we maintain a military structure that
keeps the peace of the world.....Who is in the Indian Ocean with the aircraft
carriers, helicopters, skilled personal? No one has the infrastructure in the
world, we spend almost half a trillion dollars a year on our military structure,
which is essentially the fire department of the planet and it is always at the
disposal of people hit in a national disaster.....Incidentally on food aid, we
give 60% of all the food aid in the world. It is simply irresponsible to talk
about the U.S. as anything other than the most generous nation on the planet.

This article in the Washington Times gives yet another set of inspiring examples.

The "Great Satan," my eye!


This Boston Globe editorial by Joan Vennochi suggests that Mitt Romney is quite serious about running for president in 2008. I am sure he would prefer that Vennochi had not portrayed him as she did, but that's no surprise.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this story! It's great to know that there are still a ton of caring indivduals in the world. It's too bad that it takes a major disater to bring out the best in people though.

Oh, and I actually had a real hedgehog for a pet! They are the cutest things ever! 

Posted by Aimee Roo

Thursday, January 06, 2005 10:41:00 AM  

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