False hopes and unfulfilled promises

By Amanda Finnegan
September 22, 2006

Within the past five years, America has seen two of the most deadly and devastating tragedies in our modern history. This month, we marked the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the fifth anniversary of 9/11; two events that greatly affected the Cabrini community.

The construction of Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, began on May 7, 2001. A little less than 28 months later, the stadium hosted its first event. On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Centers were destroyed in a horrific display of terrorism. Five years after this event, there is no state-of-the-art stadium, not even a monument. Instead, there is a crater in the earth, a constant reminder of the ineptitude of the U.S. government.

Following in the footsteps of 9/11, Katrina ripped through one of the most historic cities in our nation, displacing between 645,000 and 1.1 million Louisiana residents. Many are living in temporary trailers with no employment and will be evicted when federal aid runs out.

We all heard motivational speeches and empty promises from our president and other political figure heads, but when it came time to put their money with their mouth is, the American people just weren’t that important. Just as New Orleans grows closer to acquiring more funding, mayor Ray Nagin sets the city back by making statements like “rebuilding a chocolate city” or comparisons between Katrina and 9/11. But it starts to make us think, has Katrina become the new 9/11?

This past weekend, Cabrini had the honor of hosting the United in Memory: 9/11 Memorial Quilt. The exhibit is the closest thing to a memorial that we have achieved and is purely volunteer driven, a reminder of the strong American spirit. Unfortunately, it is hard to say the same of American leaders during times of crisis.

While visiting the quilt this past weekend, one could notice a volunteer seamstress in the corner of the gym diligently sewing, a reminder that much like the quilt, our country is still a work in progress. Katrina victims are still homeless and jobless and families of 9/11 victims are left with little to memorialize their loved ones. This is more important than any global cause. It may not be as extreme as conflicts in other nations but these are our own people. We will never be able to help others until we can learn to help our own.

Society calls us the “9/11 generation,” a generation that is more likely to volunteer than ever before. More than 50,000 young volunteers have worked along the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina and over 300 nonprofit organizations have been created in the wake of 9/11, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. But relief efforts can not be solely driven by charities and volunteers. It takes the support, effort and funding of our government. They owe the American people that much.

Timelines are something that our government seems to lack. They start things and never finish. The war on terror, the war in Iraq, rebuilding Ground Zero and Katrina relief are just a short list. Society is so quick to move on, but why are we not focusing tragedies that have left our country crippled? When the government decides to move onto its next hot crusade of the moment, it turns its back on the people who need it the most.

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Amanda Finnegan

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