Reporter's Note: President Obama has pledged the United States’ support for Haiti following the devastating earthquake there; the subject of my daily letter to the White House.
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Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
My producer and I told our New York folks that we are ready, willing and able to go to Haiti to assist with the coverage. So far, we are not needed, and that’s fine. While I still get excited about covering disasters, I have changed since my younger days.
Back then, the experience of going to some place that had descended into chaos was so exhilarating, and the challenge was so daunting, that I had precious little time to think about the people who were caught in the middle. I was certainly sympathetic, but so many other emotions were competing for space, I simply could not afford to get too caught up in my feelings. And I’ve had a great many adventures along the way: Trekking through war torn lands; visiting places where catastrophes had destroyed a generation of work (and sometimes the generation itself;) wading through floods; dodging wildfires; bracing against blizzards, hurricanes, and tornadoes; sleeping in an abandoned school while the rats ran over the floor and the enemy snipers watched for any movement we might make in the night.
But here is the change: While I can still grit my teeth and present a stoic face to the outside, the private toll of witnessing such horrors grows with each year, and my private sadness over them has grown deeper. I have become skilled enough at the job that it doesn’t demand my undivided concentration, and that has given me more time to ponder the grave unfairness of life at times, and I must say that is on my mind tonight.
Why are some of us so lucky as to be born into wealthy, educated countries, where opportunities abound and troubles are comparatively few? And why are others (no less in my God’s eyes than we) born into troubled places where poverty, disease, violence, and natural disasters seem to rain down from the sky?
We don’t know how many people have perished in Haiti, and we won’t for awhile. But this I do know: A lot of people there are going to need a lot of help, and probably for a long time. And I think it is part of the very nature of being American, that we should care for them, pray for them, and help them all we can for as long as we can; because as I write this, I am looking through the DC night at a beautiful city, untouched by such ravages; while only a short plane ride away, the night is full of loss and suffering in a land that has known too much of both.
Good luck in your efforts to help, and your calls to rally us all to the cause.
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