... AND WE WILL NOT FORGET

August 10, 2009...and we will not forget.

For many, in our neighborhoods of Gowanda and Silver Creek and surrounding areas... August 10th and 11th will remain deeply engrafted in our minds and incased in the pocket of our deepest thoughts. Your columnists, along with hundreds of others, were victims of the flood. But the days we remember best, are those days immediately following the flood... and we remember them with heart felt appreciation. And we will not forget!

For it was in those days, after the catastrophic event, that we began to really know the fiber of our neighbors and the generosity of friends near and far. The remembrance of those days will remain in the depth of our minds and in the deepest recesses of our memory. For we saw, felt, and experienced a generous flow of special warmth, kindness and giving from persons... some known and some strangers... who truly put into action the words: "I am my brothers' keeper." For that is the American way. That is the backbone of America.

Many of us knew first hand, what it was to be the recipient of outpouring genuine giving persons, the likes of which we have never seen before. People from far and wide... men , women, children and youth, from all creeds, races and backgrounds... came, pitched in and offered assistance. Be it great or small, the offer of help came from a giving heart.

These "caring" folks came with an extended hand, an energetic arm, a willing mind, and a generous spirit. They came as a friendly neighbor to help neighbors in distress. They arrived with food and water, the offer of shelter, first aide materials, hardware and software and cleaning equipment, supplies and cloths for school children. But, most memorable of all, was the heartfelt generosity of neighborly thoughtfulness. And we will not forget.

They brought... food for the hungry, encouragement for the tired, an ambitious arm for the exhausted, and emotional support for the needy. They came from all directions, north and south, east and west. They came with genuine warmth and humble hearts, wrapped in a friendly smile and an encouraging reassuring word. And that too is the American way. And we will not forget.

For many of the victims, the days which followed the flood event, seemed to be one long dark and never ending day... with no sun rise and no sunset. At times, it seemed to be almost beyond the realization of coping. But during the hours of anxiety and cleanup, there would arrive on the scene a friendly face. It may have been a firefighter or two from our home community or from miles away, or a government official, the National Guard, perhaps a police officer, disaster coordinator, or a call from the County Health Department to check on our needs and those of our neighbors . There were organizational caregivers, service club representatives and church workers, and so many others from all walks of life. They were just plain good folks, young and old from near and far. They came to offer assistance and lend a helping hand in whatever capacity most needed. They were there to help salvage that which was damaged and restore that which was lost. And we will not forget.

The peril of the material loss for some victims has been very great. Some of our neighbors experienced a loss that can never be fully recouped and the memory of those moments has been etched in their minds never to be fully forgotten.

But, on the far brighter side of the ledger, there has been a wonderful full burst of realization of richness which, in some ways, even exceeds the perils of the losses. We have seen and experienced a zest of genuineness and neighborliness, a spirit of cooperativeness and helpfulness, and warmth of the true nature of that which makes American so very special.

For America is made of up people from all walks of life, some young and some not so young, some rich and some not so rich, some strong and some not quite so strong. But each in his or her way, came to our flooded premises to offer their help, encouragement and their prayers.

And each of them are like each of us; for they too, at one time or another, have experienced in their walk of life hard times and easier times, joys and hardships, happiness and stressfulness. But most of all, each has something unique to all: all are Americans.... in action!

We live in America. We know freedom and liberty, helpfulness and endurance, resilience and rebuilding. We know what it is to live in a great nation with an enduring heritage and dynamic fortitude. We have seen firsthand, neighbors who took to heart the meaning of being ones brothersí keeper. And that is what American Exceptionalism is all about.

You know, for many of us, we have always been here together, with each of us right here in each otherís midst. But, even though we have been here always, it was not until just recently, that many of us found each other... found each other as a friend, a neighbor, and a sister and brother.

We not only found our neighbors but we discovered something ever far more precious permanent, and lasting. We discovered their heart and the heart of American virtue. And it just cannot get any better than that!

And so we say...

America, America
God shed His grace on thee
And crown Thy good, with BROTHERHOOD
From sea to shining sea

And we will not forget! And that is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.