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Open Mike

People amaze me

I have kind of lost the fire to be in the newspaper business over the last few weeks.

I have been trying to figure out why I want to be in this business. I've wondered after I am a plump, old man (or after my kids graduate from Sunnyside High School), do I want to be sitting behind a desk putting together a story every day? Why do I want to put up with people or have the stress of making deadline or dealing with a difficult story, where you have to sometimes ask the hard questions.

But I figured out the other day why I developed a passion for this business, while watching Hurricane Katrina. Being a reporter is much like being a fireman or a policeman, you get a rush when an extraordinary event happens. No one enjoys seeing a tragedy unfold, but it gets your blood boiling as a reporter and you get an indescribable feeling flowing through your body.

Stories such as Hurricane Katrina are even more different to watch when you have visited the place where the event has occurred.

Such is my case. I went to New Orleans for Madri Gras in 2001 and it is an unbelievable city. New Orleans is a city of passion, energy, history, a love of life that is now all but gone. Those who have been there know what I am talking about.

It is different to watch on television when something such as Hurricane Katrina occurs. I have been at the Superdome. I stayed in the Hyatt Hotel that had all of the windows blown out of it. I have seen Canal Street, Bourbon Street and the French Quarter. It is hard to believe most all of that is gone now and will never be the same.

It is through these tragedies that we learn about the true nature of man.

I was talking with a friend the other day about how we deal personally when catastrophic events happen. Many of us, we pray to God to help us through the hard times, saying how we will be a different person if you just get us through.

I think back to all of the issues I had last year when I had a near death experience from being ill. You learn the concept of death is not that bad. It is not as scary as some may think. The scary part is that you might die without having lived your life.

Life is filled with second chances for people. People receive second chances every day. And the good news is that months from now, the people down south will start rebuilding their lives and we will all join in to help them.

I am amazed every day of my life at the human race. Or resiliency is breathtaking. Our ability to overcome that which stands in our way is undeniable. Our most enduring quality is our desire to come together during trying times.

In my life, I have talked to baseball greats, governors, United States Secret Service personnel, United States senators, seen both the president and the vice president of the United States, and have had the pleasure of being called baby by a beautiful, heavyset African American airline security worker at the New Orleans Airport. But some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life are right here. There are many stories of people who have experienced triumph and tragedy right here in the Lower Valley. People who have lost family members, homes, been injured but yet somehow managed to overcome the adversity.

And I think I once again found the reason why I became a reporter. It is the stories of our neighbors, our children that compel me. It is telling the stories of the tragedies and the triumphs that make all of the hard work in this business worthwhile.

I suppose I am just fascinated by the extraordinary people who share in this life with me and the extraordinary things they do every day. For those are the stories that will be talked about for years to come.

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