There are certain things we should never forget.
Even as the passing of time tends to sweep distant memories under the rug of history, certain extraordinary events beg our pardon as they stay in the forefront of our hearts and minds.
Hurricane Katrina is not something any American should ever let sail into the sunset of their collective memory.
Just ask anyone in the Gulf Coast region about Katrina, and the rush of emotions flush over them just as strong as on the fateful day – Aug. 29, 2005 – when the storm made landfall.
It is one of those dates that will live in infamy, as does Sept. 11, 2001.
These were days when time seemed to stand still. These were days when we knew all of the days to come would not be the same.
Just as New York was devastated on 9/11, so was New Orleans with Katrina. Both major American cities are loved by the people who inhabit them and admired from afar. We were all New Yorkers after 9/11 just as we were all New Orleanians after Katrina.
One of the worst disasters in American history, Katrina should be remembered as such. So many lives were lost, so much was destroyed and so many simply lost everything.
Here we are four years after the catastrophe. Much has changed, but much still needs to be done. The road to recovery is a long one, and the struggle continues to this day.
There have been plenty signs of hope to point to over the years. New Orleans and the surrounding area is going through a rebirth process. Like a child learning to crawl and eventually learning to walk, the people of the area are learning how to carry on their lives.
Prior to Katrina, the New Orleans Saints gave a bumper sticker to season ticket holders that simply read “Faith.” My grandfather, being a ticket holder at the time, gave me that sticker and I put it up in my room along with all of my other Saints items. When I first received it, the meaning was simply a reference to the die-hard nature of Saints fans who have stuck with the team through tough times.
After Katrina, that sticker took on a whole new meaning. Over the last few years, every time I see a Saints “Faith” sticker or a fleur-de-lis, it serves more as a reminder of the unity and spirit of the people who have battled back from the storm.
Slowly but surely, life in the Big Easy is getting better. Katrina couldn’t kill Mardi Gras, or the French Quarter or the street cars. It couldn’t kill Jazz Fest, or Cafe Du Monde or the Saints.
The team returned home after playing a displaced season in San Antonio and Baton Rouge, and they’ve been going strong ever since. It was an emotional night when the black-and-gold team stepped back onto the turf of the revamped Louisiana Superdome.
Hopefully more happy times will come. Hopefully more tears of joy will flow than tears of sorrow.
And as another Katrina anniversary passes, hopefully we’ll all remember where we’ve been, how far we’ve come and where we’re going.