Letters to the Editor: Not everyone who cares can travel to assist victims




The letter by Rev Van Carpenter in the Nov. 2 Advocate was a thoughtful word describing both the anguish of hurricane victims and the quality caring by individuals and church groups following Hurricane Katrina. The morning-after folks’ loving presence and their open hearts seem to have been just the right prescription for the despair and grief of the “most gut-wrenching” time for the victims. A beautiful letter... except for that last paragraph.

“So, don’t come to me...don’t tell me...I’m  not interested...I don’t even want...unless you were also with me when the sun  came up the morning after the storm passed.” Whoa!

First, it was not possible for some caring folks to be there the next morning. The roads were blocked for most of a week. Officials repeatedly warned and pleaded, “Do not travel to the coast...roads closed...no gas...stay away.” Besides, Katrina was still officially a hurricane as far as Columbus. Many loving folk upstate were dealing with rescuing neighbors, no electricity or phones, thawing freezers and their own gut-wrenching time even if they had no storm surge and their winds were “only 80 m.p.h.”

Second, many churches and agencies opened shelters for evacuees, and many more church folks opened their homes to friends, kin and strangers. They were doing the same things and more described in the beautiful letter, but not at the evacuees’ homes. They cried in pain and prayed with them when they learned a child’s teacher drowned, a pet crushed by a tree, photographs lost, jobs gone, screams when the TV showed their neighborhood school destroyed.

They cried tears of joy with them when the call came reporting that Mama is safe in a Meridian church, Aunt Mary is in Greenwood after being on the road 15 hours from Moss Point, a cousin from Bay St. Louis is OK. The shelters and crowded homes became places of sharing and evacuees blessed hosts with their courage and faith.

In addition, response to this disaster or the 8,000 schools destroyed in the Pakistan earthquake or the last tsunami is not an either/or situation, but a both/and. Those immediately present have the opportunity to love first, but those who send or come later are also moved by love and compassion. Who’s to say that love offered today is greater than love offered next February? Let’s not limit the ways or times God and God’s people can find to love God’s wounded children.

Let one of the victims speak. At a vacant store complex in Waveland, church, business and government helpers have combined resources and efforts to provide food and provisions for arguably one of the most devastated counties in the region. It is an impressive amalgamation of tents and trailers, an improvised mall for free groceries and supplies for anyone in need.

Delivering requested supplies donated by  people upstate, I saw a mother of four filling a cart with basic necessities. She cried and hugged Methodist husband and wife volunteers from Virginia. She said, “Everyone of ya’ll wearing those chartreuse shirts (“Katrina Response Team”) must have a double helping of goodness. Your smiles are such a welcome to this scared, whooped mama. Me and my neighbors cry a bucket of tears every day, but I come here and get hope again.”

Ron Barham




Isn’t it wonderful knowing there is now another country where people can voice their opinion without fear of death? Isn’t freedom a wonderful thing? I think everyone should have the ability to experience the freedoms we have. You can choose which church you attend, which newspaper you want to read, which soft drink you want to enjoy. It’s truly a blessing to have this freedom. However, this freedom comes with responsibility.

I know how important it is to know your fellow countrymen support your endeavors. I’m sure there are many Vietnam veterans who will verify my statement. Any word of discontent and discord can be (and normally is) used by the enemy to demoralize our troops. It is downright irresponsible to say the war is wrong while we have men and women serving in harms way.

I served in Desert Storm, an action that was overwhelmingly supported by our citizens. The returning troops were welcomed home as conquering heroes, with parades and pats on the back. It was truly impressive how the country rallied behind our military. There will also be opposition. I’m sure there was opposition to our involvement in World War II.

It seems that every military action we take is weighed on the amount of time we spend “taking care of business.”  If we get in and out quickly it was a great idea and we have parades and rally behind our conquering heroes. If it takes longer than a 30-minute news broadcast, we start with our peace marches and say what a horrible idea it was to get involved. 

Whether you agree or not, the decision to go to war was made by the people we elected to represent us in government — Democrat, Republican and Independents. I beg you to voice your discontent on Election Day and not allow it to be used as propaganda against our heroes.

And as for the “church” getting involved in protest of this war, there are plenty of other ways to split a church. Don’t use one that could cause one more death. It’s just not worth it.

Jeffrey W. Mortenson

Ocean Springs