Saturday, October 01, 2005

The strong brave and

This strong, brave and beautiful sister heeded the call, and has come to the aid of her country. Like the minutemen of 1775, she rallied to protect the country and save the promise of America, by helping her brothers and sisters in time of need.
The New Waveland Cafe
Waveland, Mississippi
Photo Credit; Subkommander Dred

September 15, 2005

Dear Folks…

The following is a letter that I sent to the Governor

Governor Mark R. Warner
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia and
the United States of America, it is with great
astonishment and anger that I view the current
response by the federal authorities to this most
horrific disaster still unfolding along the Gulf
coast. Despite reports of daring helicopter rescues
and numerous individual acts of bravery and courage,
for whatever reasons, the dire need of our fellow
countrymen is nowhere near being adequately served
more than 4 days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. For
reasons I cannot ascertain, the federal government in
particular has been either unwilling or unable to
mount the level of response needed to deal with a
catastrophe of such magnitude.
While I know that you have taken steps to ascertain
how best the Commonwealth could be of service in such
a disaster, I felt compelled to relay to you the sense
of urgency that I and many of my colleagues feel
regarding the serious public health threat that is
unfolding in New Orleans and elsewhere. A very serious
and dire emergency has presented itself to us, and we
are eager to play our part, not only as clinicians,
but as patriots. A prompt and robust response must be
Virginia’s course!
With the horror of the September 11, 2001 attacks
still only hours old, one of the greatest frustrations
that I and many of my countrymen endured was the
feeling of helplessness as the size of that disaster
unfolded, of being unable to do anything to help
mitigate the damage and destruction of that black day.
Have we learned nothing in the intervening 4
years? Have we forgotten how to rally around a nation
in crisis? Have we forgotten that we are citizens of a
grand democratic republic, with a duty to act when the
country is in danger?
Let history remember that when our countrymen
needed help, it was the Commonwealth of Virginia that
came to their aid. Let the world know what when
America was in danger, Virginians have time and again
rallied to her side. From the founding of our Republic
to the present day, from the time of Washington,
Jefferson and Madison, the sons and daughters of the
Commonwealth has never shied from the call of duty.
We ask only for leadership and support.

Your most humble servant...

Well, as you may have expected, I have yet to hear
from the Governor. As for my appeal to hospital
administration, it was met with a fairly lukewarm
response, largely consisting of a pat on the head for
being such a concerned person, along with an
unofficial reprimand from my supervisor, who got a
phone call from some nabob in the hospital CEO’s
office who was rather irritated that a low level grunt
in the Emergency Room had the temerity to bother
senior management with such a request for action. I
had specifically stated, in a respectful manner, that
surely an institution as venerated as ours
would be able to mount a robust and effective response
to this disaster, and that many of my colleagues as
well as myself were eager to do our part. The bungling
of this disaster response has caught many of our
public and private institutions with their pants down.
Almost 3 weeks into this mess, it appears that little
is actually happening on the ground to address the
basic needs of a large number of our countrymen.
It has become apparent by now that the institutions
that our society has depended on traditionally are not
capable, for whatever reason, to adequately meet the
needs of such an unprecedented disaster. I am not
casting blame or looking for a whipping boy in making
such a statement, but merely telling the truth. I am
ashamed of our government, and at our society for
allowing this easily foreseeable disaster to occur without adequate preparation.

In short, is has become a true Clusterfuck.

However, given the poor level of state, federal and NGO
response to this catastrophe, it has fallen to the
average citizen, either working alone or in concert
with their sisters and brothers, to provide some kind
of assistance to those who have lost so much from this
natural and manmade disaster. While I am ashamed of
my government, I am very proud of my fellow Americans
that have gone to New Orleans, or Gulfport or
elsewhere in the disaster area to aid in the relief
Now, you all have known me for a long time. And over
the years I have come up with some crazy ideas, some
of them to my detriment. However, the most recent
crazy idea I think has some merit, and I wanted to
talk with you about something that has been brewing in
my mind ever since the extent of the damage from
Katrina became known. I strongly feel that it is now
up to the common citizen of our republic to respond in
a concrete way, to help our fellow countrymen in their
time of need. I am certain that many of you have
already donated to one of the many charities that have
been organized to respond to the Katrina disaster, and
while fundraising and asking for money is something
that I feel pretty uncomfortable with, given the
context of the situation at present, my comfort level
is pretty unimportant. Hence, the purpose of this
As it happens, I have taken a week off from work
in late September, initially to attend the American
College of Emergency Physicians conference in DC.
Given the level of distress still in the Gulf states,
I think going to a convention at this point is not
only a waste of my time, but makes a mockery of the
things I believe in both as an American and a member
of the human family. I cannot criticize my government
if I am not willing to do something more than say
‘ain’t that a shame’ and put a few bucks in the
collection plate. Thus, I am going to bag going to
ACEP and head down to Mississippi to work at a soup
kitchen/medical aid station recently set up in
Gulfport. This particular operation is put together by
a group of folks called the Rainbow Family, who I have
had the occasion to hang out with most recently during
the annual Gathering in West Virginia this past
summer. To give a complete rundown of who and what
they are would be beyond the scope of this posting. If
you are inclined to do so, you may check them out on
your own (Wikipedia has a good article with links on
what the Rainbow Family is all about). The short
version is that they are bunch of like minded folks
who are bound together only by their reverence for the
earth and their desire to be a force for positive
change in the world. Or at least, that’s my interpretation. There are no dues, no hierarchy,
no religion or dogma of any kind to follow. And the
fact that they have extensive experience in setting up
kitchens and providing the services needed for a large
group of people, often in wilderness settings, makes
them particularly able to respond in a way of great
significance to such a disaster that has befallen our
country. Thus, in some way, shape or form I am going
down there at the end of the month to do whatever I
can to help out. Of course, if any of you are so
inclined, I would be more than delighted to have you
come along and contribute in what ever way you could.
Right now, I am thinking about renting a van and
loading it up with tools, material and whatever other
relief supplies I can beg, buy or steal (all for the
common good, of course) and drive down. I am looking
to leave Town on 9/22 and return here on
However, and this is the weird part that I am
having a hard time with, if you could see your way to
sending along a few dollars to help out with this
endeavor, it would go a long way to making this trip
worthwhile. I figure that between the cost of renting
the van, the fuel to get there and back and procuring
enough supplies to have an impact will cost in the
range of $2000 to $3000 dollars, which for a man of
modest means such as myself is a considerable sum. For
that, you get a week of me (and whoever else I can get
to come along) working in the disaster zone, doing
whatever I can to help out. If I have to, I’ll charge
the whole deal on a credit card and deal with
consequences later. It’s not the optimum solution, but
I am quite willing to do so if need be.
Friends, I realize that this is not the usual rant
you would have expected from your humble working boy.
But we are living in unusual times, and since it has
become obvious that our elected officials, at all
levels, are not up to the task of providing for the
common defense and protecting our citizens from all
enemies, foreign or domestic (this includes hurricanes
and inept disaster planning), I have come to the
conclusion that until our government can get their act
together and start looking out for the interests of
the common citizen, it is up to us for make the
promise of America ring true again.
Call me crazy. Call me angry. Call me frustrated.
But most of all, call me an American.

Your most humble servant,

SubKommander Dred


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