Thanks to Tom and “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” I have been blessed to travel the world, meet several U.S. presidents, an African president and a king – and see the best that this world, especially this country, has to offer. Now, the flip side of that is visiting New York City’s Ground Zero one month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and going to Port au Prince two months after the Haitian earthquake. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes tornadoes that have destroyed the homes of friends and family.
The week before last, my cousin, Joe, and his wife, Theresa, rushed from their Atlanta, Georgia home to scoop up their daughters, students at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Then last week, new devastation arrived in the wake of more tornadoes in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Virginia.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of homes have been lost. One morning, people kissed their loved ones, walked out of their houses, locked their doors and drove off to work or school. That afternoon, they rushed back to find … a pile of debris where their homes once stood. And their relatives? Fortunately, many were able to find and reconnect with mothers, fathers, children, brothers and sisters. Others were not so lucky. Even those who were together during the storms found themselves ripped out of each other’s arms.
One mother and father were with their seven-week-old infant. The father was severely injured, but had the presence of mind to hand his child over to someone before he collapsed. The mother, a new mom – a woman who only held her child in her arms for about 50 days – did not survive.
Monday, I visited a town outside of Birmingham with the lovely name of Pleasant Grove. It certainly lives up to its name until you get to what can only be described as a DMZ – a demilitarized zone.