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May 8th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #474 "Standing with Tennessee"

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The flooding in Tennessee finally broke though all the other news to rather startle many folks in the country who were no doubt barely aware of the problems. Hopefully, the attention is bringing a little more hope to those good people, as I mention in my daily letter to President Obama.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/04/story.tn.flooding.gi.jpg caption="I am so impressed by the efforts of people in Tennessee already, and I’m sure that feeling will only grow. " width=300 height=169]

Dear Mr. President,

I’m sitting at my desk listening to WWOZ streaming out of New Orleans. They play classic jazz, Cajun, blues and a lot more and it always makes me feel transported to a better place when the work loads up too much. I used to listen to the station when I lived there, and now when I tune it I can almost hear the ships passing on the Mississippi, feel the evening heat of the Quarter, and taste a fat Po’ Boy.

Spending too much time reminiscing is no good. It robs you of appreciation of the present, and the promise of the future. But at certain times it is an important and worthwhile pastime. And maybe it can help our friends in Tennessee right now as they try to recover from their awful floods.

When Katrina hit, I must say I was terribly sad. To see a place that I loved so much torn apart; lives lost, homes destroyed, history washed into the gutters. I’ll be honest, it broke my heart. And like the death of a loved one, it took me through many emotions. I had to be angry for a while, and depressed for a bit, and irritable, and apathetic, and all those things that we all are when our sense of the world gets turned upside down.

But throughout it all, I reminded myself of the greatness of the community I loved. I listened to the music and heard genius. I looked at old photos and saw art. I called old friends and felt the feeble beat of hope stirring amid the despair. We talked and talked. And talked some more. Folks I had not heard from in years called, and I called them. We reminded ourselves, in a sea of wreckage, what made our community beautiful, lovely, and so worth rebuilding. For all the hammers and nails, bulldozers and plywood that have gone into bringing New Orleans back, I think the foundation lies there; in good people reassuring each other that it’s going to be o.k.; we can stick together and come back.

I am so impressed by the efforts of people in Tennessee already, and I’m sure that feeling will only grow. But if they flag or grow weary at all, I hope they’ll look south at my old town and take heart; knowing that the good people of New Orleans, and in many ways people all over this country who have overcome disasters, are standing with them in spirit. Mopping up, drying out, hopefully sending whatever aid they can, and tapping their toes for the music to play on once again.

Hope all is well with you this weekend. Oh, and if you haven’t remembered: Tomorrow is Mother’s Day! Call if you need me to help you pick up a card for your wife or something. I know you’d do the same for me.

Regards,
Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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