By Barbara Daniel
September 11, 2001. Sixteen years have passed since that day when hate-filled murderers flew planes into the New York City Trade Center. My husband and I had stayed over night in Nebraska on our way to Oregon. At breakfast that morning people were watching the news on television wondering if they should return home or continue their trips. I wanted to return home, but my husband wanted to go on to Oregon.
What we saw on the news that morning of 9/01/11 looked like a horror story. We left and drove all day. There wasn’t a plane flying all day, it was eerie to say the least.
While the destruction raged there was a young man named Welles Crowther working at the Center as a trader (investment banker). He had wanted to be a fireman from the time he was a little boy. Welles was in the process of changing his job from being a trader to being a fireman. He was known as the man with the red bandanna. After the plane flew into his building he began to help people down the stairs. Forty floors. He continued rescuing people until the tower collapsed.
Young Welles died in that building, but before he lost his life, he had rescued twelve people. He was remembered by the red bandanna he had worn since he was a little boy.
Welles Crowther was 24-years old. He gave his life to save lives.
We can see the courage of a young man, and the example of many others working during our recent acts of nature and the storm that swept across Houston, Texas, then on to Florida. Unless one experiences such tragedy we cannot identify with it. Forty lives were lost in Houston.
The Katrina hurricane killed nearly 2,000 people. And corrupt politicians took advantage of the tragedy. Houston worked hard to prevent as much tragedy as possible. President Trump gave $1,000,000 of his own money, and critics in the media did not recognize his efforts. How wicked and self-centered can they get?
The American people as a whole are courageous and generous in helping when disaster hits and homes and lives are destroyed. Yet, we also have a hardhearted tribe that will loot and steal.
After the Chicago fire in 1871 a third of that city was burned down. It was generous people, companies and charities that brought the city back to life.
The same thing occurred in 1889 when 2,209 people were swept away by a wall of water from a broken dam in Johnstown, Pa.
In 1815, a volcanic ash eruption from Mt. Tambora in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) prevented sunlight and heat from reaching a large part of the earth and the year 1816 was called the “year without a summer.” It impacted areas as far away as western Europe and eastern North America.
Ever since Noah’s flood, the stories go on and on. The spirit of man reacts in ways beyond our comprehension when put to the test of surviving.
Probably one of the most unique disasters in the United States history was the rupture of a giant molasses tank in Boston, Mass., killing 21 people, injuring 150, and causing damage worth $100 million in today’s money. This tragedy led to the longest legal battle in Boston history. On January 15, 1919, a molasses storage tank burst open on the Boston waterfront, spilling out two million gallons of molasses in a 15-ft. high, 160-ft wave that ran out over the north end of the city at 35 mph destroying everything it touched. The wave of molasses smashed a railroad car and killed a 10-year-old boy as he was there to lick up the sweet syrup from a leak in the tank. It pinned Walter Merrithew, a railroad clerk on the wharf, against the wall of a freight shed with his feet three-feet off the floor as he watched a horse drowning nearby. It was a wall of molasses destroying everything in its path.
Molasses was a common sweetener at this time in America –– it was especially used in cooking, fermentation to make liquor, and cattle feed. [For more on this go to History Today, a most unusual story by Chuck Lyons.)
There will be natural disasters and deliberate acts of hatred. North Korea is an example in 2017. There will always be tragedy, but through each one there is the courageous ones with the determination to restore and start over regardless of the time and effort it takes.
I had a friend that use to say “when times get hard, we’ve got to get our moxie up.” Meaning reach for laughter, courage and truth. Give it all you’ve got!
Who knows what will be next? Keep moving and trusting, there is always another road and a mountain to climb.
By Barbara Daniel