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One of the most interesting points made in the many and varied news reports last week during the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina on the Golf Coast had nothing to do with flooding or emergency management or racial divides.

It was a brief note that we saw in the New York Times that something like 85 percent of the citizens of New Orleans were born there. The story didn’t address it, but the implication was that many of these folks may never have been out of New Orleans, which may in part explain why it remains impossible for so many people to contemplate leaving their homes and city, no matter how dire the predictions and consequences.

For many of us who could only watch the horrific events of last week unfold on television and read the stories in newspapers and magazines, last week’s disaster on the Gulf Coast was not just a reminder of how fragile life can be. It also was a vivid reminder of the generosity and compassion of the American public and American corporations.

We were struck by the level to which so many people and companies responded to the disaster, despite the fact that they themselves were being affected by the storm and its aftermath.

Forget how government responded or didn’t respond to the crisis. (Though we were struck by Keith Olbermann’s quoting of Winston Churchill, who once said that the responsibility of government “for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence.”)

In the end, it was people – citizens – who defined what this nation is all about. As always.

It was Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish in Louisiana, who told Tim Russert on “Meet The Press” yesterday: “If America…American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.”

Always look on the bright side of life.
KC's View: