That is the only adequate word I have right now.
I am simply…. numb.
Yesterday morning we awoke to the news that the fires that had been raging in our beloved mountains had grown through the night due to increased intense winds. Suddenly, things were scary and real. There has been no significant rainfall, if any, for well over 100 days. We were living in a virtual timber box. The unthinkable finally happened.
In the past 24 hours I have witnessed three friends losing their homes, their businesses, and their livelihoods. This monster wildfire has devastated and destroyed nature, history, and lives. It came with no warning, no time for preparation, and no mercy.
The residents and community are devastated.
The world has seemingly not taken notice either. They are too busy arguing over election recounts, Kayne’s recovery, or who is or is not going to the late Cuban Dictator’s funeral. Barley a mention on national news on the worst devastation this community has ever witnessed.
But if there is one thing I know about the mountain Culture I live in, it is that people take care of each other, and they will rise from the ashes this monster has left.
So much has been lost….homes, businesses, gorgeous miles of dense thick forest, but one thing remains…..
The human spirit.
Gandhi once said, “A nation’s culture resides in the heart and souls of it’s people.” We, the inhabitants of this dear, beautiful, and historical place, are what truly makes the culture. Tennessee is not called the Volunteer state for no reason. There is a sense of humanly duty any time disaster strikes. Within MINUTES of the evacuations, hundreds of people were opening their homes…to strangers. They didn’t stop and ask who they voted for, what their sexual orientation was, or even ask if they were an “outsider”.
They simply helped.
That is what mountain people do.
That is what HUMANS do.
So my friends, I implore you to pray. Pray for our beautiful mountains. As day is breaking we are seeing just what all has been lost. Pray for the thousands who have been evacuated and left all behind. Pray for the firefighters who work selflessly to contain and control this monster. Pray for the winds to cease and the rains to fall.
This community will rise again… just as the phoenix rises from the ashes, so will the people in the hill of East Tennessee.
Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee
What Love and Pride I Feel for Thee.
You Proud Ole State, the Volunteer,
Your Proud Traditions I Hold Dear.
I Revere Your Heroes
Who Bravely Fought our Country’s Foes.
Renowned Statesmen, so Wise and Strong,
Who Served our Country Well and Long.
I Thrill at Thought of Mountains Grand;
Rolling Green Hills and Fertile Farm Land;
Earth Rich with Stone, Mineral and Ore;
Forests Dense and Wild Flowers Galore;
Powerful Rivers that Bring us Light;
Deep Lakes with Fish and Fowl in Flight;
Thriving Cities and Industries;
Fine Schools and Universities;
Strong Folks of Pioneer Descent,
Simple, Honest, and Reverent.
Beauty and Hospitality
Are the Hallmarks of Tennessee.
And O’er the World as I May Roam,
No Place Exceeds my Boyhood Home.
And Oh How Much I Long to See
My Native Land, My Tennessee.
By William Porter Lawrence