Like many of you, I’m ending this tragic week emotionally drained. I was either glued to the weather report throughout the first part of the week or — when Su-the-dog and I weren’t settled down inside the storm shelter waiting for the all-clear to sound — I hovered with her about the shelter door leading down to it. Now as the week ends, I just might have changed my mind about a couple of things.
Many of us have been on our knees throughout this week praying that God will strengthen and comfort the state’s numerous tornado victims and their loved ones. Some have already contributed to organizations such as the Red Cross or the Salvation Army to aid this week’s victims of various tornadoes, and those who are able have either donated blood or else they will when the Bloodmobile makes its rounds.
All of us felt pride in our fellow Oklahomans — both professional and civilian — who rushed to Moore less than 24 miles south of Edmond on Monday to begin rescue and recovery operations. We’re grateful to local newscasters like KFOR’s Mike Morgan who kept us informed before, during and after the catastrophe.
It was only natural that many of the nation’s big name news commentators would show up to interview survivors the day after the week’s greatest tornado tragedy struck last Monday ... but I have to admit that I felt an edge of resentment toward them. No doubt their presence and the airing of their broadcasts throughout the nation boosted donations to help offset the state’s multi-billion dollar reconstruction costs, but I couldn’t help remembering their long-time dismissiveness of our great state in areas other than athletic. I myself am quite comfortable with the terms “Okie” and “Redneck,” so their occasional reference to us in those terms was insulting only because they intended them to be.
It’s not like our mainstream media visitors weren’t complimentary of the people they found here … not like they weren’t amazed by so little looting among the debris … not like they weren’t impressed by our peoples’ eagerness to welcome strangers in the same spirit they reached out to help their distraught neighbors, even at a time when their own world had been badly shaken. It’s simply that I didn’t trust their sincerity.
But then something began to happen. As the national media returned over and over to the Moore site throughout the week, I witnessed their growing compassion for the victims and saw their respect grow for this undefeated Oklahoma community, and my trust in the big name news commentators who showed up here in the flesh began to grow.
Now that I’m hearing encouraging messages directed to Oklahoma’s victims and witnessing acts of kindness by both young and old from far reaching states throughout the nation and abroad, my attitude might be undergoing a change. It could be that mainstream media’s broadcasted appreciation for the people I hold dear will alter my long-held opinion. We’ll see.
MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.