Over the past two decades, I have had the privilege to see and participate in the best of America.
9/11/2001 – I was at my new apartment waiting for the cable guy to come to set up our cable. The cable man accomplished his task by 11:00 – and I ended up watching the news for the rest of the day. In the weeks to come, we would see many reports of heroic efforts by first responders, second responders and many other people. Friends of mine coordinated volunteer teams to NYC to help clean out apartments and walk alongside people recovering from the attack. In those weeks, we saw a united country responding to the terrorist attacks. It was the best of America.
In 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Cast from Texas to Alabama. I led numerous trips from my church to Mississippi where we saw the best of America. We joined volunteers from across the nation in rebuilding homes and lives that had been destroyed by the storm. We cleaned homes out, rebuilt homes, cried with residents, and learned resilience and hope from residents. America was at its best on the Gulf Coast after Katrina.
in 2008 Hurricane Ike hit Galveston. Jenn and I moved to Galveston in early 2009. We saw the best of America as we worked for United Methodist Committee on Relief. We led volunteer work teams from every corner of the country as they helped people recover from the storm. We laughed with people and cried with people. We grieved with people over the loss of their livelihood. We connected residents to donated goods from all across America. We worked with people from Boston to California, North Dakota to Florida. We came to love the people we partnered with and served. It was the best of America.
In 2017 Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast near Houston. I spent more than a month in the area working with volunteer teams from PA and Kansas. I saw the best of America. These teams took time out of their schedules and/or vacation time to serve those who lived in the areas that were swamped under 55 inches of rain. They served with joyous spirits by giving all of their energy to help people move back home after the storm. It was the best of America.
I am fairly certain that the best of America is not covered by the news or media. The best of America is not found in politics, sports, business, celebrity or things like that. The best of America is found in the quiet heroes who give of themselves to serve those around them in difficult times.