Tennessee Vols Fight Song
I've started this post at least a dozen different times in my head. Even now, I have stared at that first sentence for a solid ten minutes. There is so much on my heart and mind after these last few weeks. Well, actually after this entire year. Has the world always been this grey or is it my age showing that I am more aware? Bus accidents, shootings, bombings, flight high jacking's, kamikaze drivers in Paris, tornado's, earth quakes, & wild fires. It feels like the list is never ending. This #NewMusicMonday is gonna be different than past posts. I plan on sharing some Tennessee specific tunes with you as well as a few stories that I've read/heard over the last few days. I think that music is powerful. It can heal, encourage, and uplift. Music is our prayer when words have escaped us. It soundtracks our memories and lulls our babies to sleep. I can think of no better way to celebrate my home state of Tennessee than by sharing a few Tennessee tunes in this weeks #NewMusicMonday. Before you say anything, yes, these tunes may have a little dust on them, but they still are some of my favorites and always come to mind when thinking about the Volunteer state.
In the last two weeks there has been a bus accident in Chattanooga that claimed several young lives and leaving so many others wounded. There was a tornado near Athens that demolished homes, churches, schools and businesses. Monday there was a wild fire in Sevierville that as of last reports has taken at least 13 lives, destroyed several hundred businesses/buildings/homes, forcing somewhere in the 15,000+ to evacuate, and leaving people not only with out their family, a home, or any of their possessions, but also unemployed all in one night. There has been video's shared of people trying to escape the mountain that will give you nightmares for weeks. I have read more than one story on people who perished in the fire because they couldn't get out in time. A mother and her two daughters, a reverend, a family in the Smokie's on vacation that lost both parents and leaving the three sons in the hospital in different levels of ICU, and locals that called Gatlinburg home. I'm not sure any "category" of people was left untouched. My mind cannot begin to fathom what some may have felt that night as they had to make the choice to try and leave or have no choice in being forced to stay. I am sure we will be hearing some of these stories as folks get back to their properties and begin assessing what happened to their specific spaces. The Mayor lost his home and his business yet he was out with the people of his city mourning, hearing their stories and just letting them see him and know he is there for them. I heard it said by Governor Haslam in a radio press conference on Friday that the city Mayor had shared with him that his first priority was the people of the city, behind that his personal loss. I find that amazing, encouraging and inspiring. That is leadership at its finest.
Fires, tornado's, loss of possessions, homes, cars, jobs, pets, and the death family/friends. We live in a 24 hour news cycle that is unavoidable so, these stories are nearly unavoidable. You can go to bed at 10 p.m. with up to the moment information and wake at 3 a.m. check the internet and find even newer information. It's kind of overwhelming the speed in which some information is flowing and yet, some are still searching for their loved ones or details on their property with no word. All of these events are traumatic and heavy enough all on their own, but combined together and adding in the holiday season, it feels so much heavier. While 13 is too many to have lost in this wild fire, I am grateful that it was only 13. Considering an evacuation of that magnitude and it really is a miracle that the death toll isn't in the thousands. I'm grateful that businesses have already mentioned rebuilding and reopening. I am grateful that the Mayor has set a goal to reopen downtown Gatlinburg potentially this week. I am grateful that so many have the ability to look forward after this horrific event.
Amy Grant - "Tender Tennessee Christmas"
I know this is a waaaaaaaayyyyyyy back cut of this song, but I felt
we could all use a little nostalgia..
All of this planning, mourning, looking forward, healing and you know what I have not heard??!! Not one report of looting. Not a single shot fired at an officer of the law, EMS crews, Fire Fighters or any other officials out in the thick of it. No one has reported of anyone being shot, simply for doing their job, i.e. a officer of the law, fire fighter, or nurse, doing those jobs in the midst of what I can only imagine Armageddon might look like. I've seen no protests blocking road ways because someone unexpectedly and traumatically lost a loved one. No signs with angry words blaming management because an entire business is burned to the ground and it's staff is now unemployed. No blaming. No hating. No violence. I've heard story after story of people going the extra mile to not just save themselves, but anyone else around them that they could. Emergency crews going on foot to area's that the trucks couldn't make it to in order to lead folks to safety. Just yesterday I read of one group of fire men who had walked to a set of cars that had gotten trapped by the fires and down tree's. Their trucks couldn't make it up so they got out and walked. They knew from dispatch that there were people in the cars and that they had to be saved. The people in the cars remained on the phone with 911 dispatch stating that they "knew" this was it for them. They had all confidence that these were their last moments on Earth. Then in the smoke that I can only assume was as thick as potato soup, they see the flash lights heading their way and the reflective gear signaling to them that help was indeed with in arms reach. They began yelling to dispatch, "We see you!! We see your light!!". These fire fighters got out of their trucks and walked to the cars. They got the senior citizens out of their cars, even carrying their pets for them so that they could better handle the walk back to safety. How? How I ask you does anyone read/hear/see these stories and not have a feeling that swells from deep in side them with Tennessee pride??!!! With just freakin' pride in humanity!! There is so much in the news about people abandoning children, shooting parents, stealing from friends, if we linger on it too much it would be so easy to think that is a proper depiction of the world we are living in and the people we are living with. But I read stories like the one I shared a few sentences back and I am reassured that humanity is not all lost.
Speaking of Tennessee pride, Tennessee's own Dolly Parton has already committed to helping the families that lost everything. She not only is donating funds from her companies, but has created a "My People" fund so that others can donate to help these folks out. She is preparing a telethon as well with all proceeds' reportedly going to the people who survived the fire. Dolly has always been a proud Tennessean, very vocal about where she grew up and her love for the Smokey mountains. She has always been one of my hero's, but this just kinda propels her to that unreachable status that no one else will ever reach on my list of hero's. She is a Tennessee girl. She is from the mountains that burned for hours this week. A friend and I were texting about the awesomeness that is Dolly. You see some folks gain success and fame and their home towns never see them again. Not Dolly. She knows where she is from and she will always represent her home state proudly.
With the bus crash that happened about two weeks ago in Chattanooga I have heard stories of locals taking children to the hospital in their own personal cars because there were so many that needed transport. I heard that nearly 800 family members and loved ones waited in the hospital lobby while school staff helped to identify the smaller children who couldn't give important information like their address, phone number, parents first name, beyond, "Mom" or "Dad". They also had an impossible task of identifying those that had passed so that their families could be brought in to confirm identity.
Dolly Parton - "My Tennessee Mountain Home"
I know that everyone handles loss and tragedy differently. Some people are their best in a emergency situation while others fall completely apart. I know that not everyone expresses their emotions in the healthiest of ways. I know these things. I also know that loss is hard no matter how it happens. I know I haven't walked a mile in most people's shoes, but I can't help, but have to ask the question, "When faced with tragedy, why, WHY, doesn't the entire country react in the way Tennesseans have?". I know there are still many stories to be told from all the tragedy that has occurred. I'm sure as folks begin to recover and even look back, there will be some stories that include missteps. But, in the face of tragedy, unexplainable fear, loss that most of us are never going to be able to imagine, people have made the choice to come together and help distribute the weight of this load. Fire fighters from other counties came to Sevierville to aid in the fire fighting, rescuing, and basically anything else that has needed to be done. Volunteers from all over have been helping with clean up, checking on displaced animals, handing out water, etc. One of the outlet malls in Sevierville has announced that they are donating $50,000 in gift cards to the families devastated by the fire. My point in comparing traumatic events? Simply this, offering a helping hand, asking, "how can I help you through this?", seems to be proving much more fruitful than responding with hate and violence. Maybe I am just that naïve?!
Picture Circulating Social Media
Original Source Currently Unknown
by The Faith Journals
The Osborne Brothers (not to be confused w Brothers Osborne)
After all of this, I know that it is going to take everyone time to recover. The loss is unimaginable. The rebuilding of the tourist town is going to take time. The choices people have to make in rebuilding or leaving and starting over has to be so painful. The families and teachers of the children from the bus accident have to say good-bye far sooner than ever anticipated aren't going to fall back into routine quickly or easily. There will also be aftermath. For the bus accident their will possibly be a trial for the driver. Punishment handed down to him to somewhat pay for his reported careless actions. As investigators make their way through out Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge their may end up being a person(s) who caused the wild fire. If so, there will be punishment and I have no clue how there would be anything less that a dozen or so charges placed on the arsonist, if such exists. The bus accident scene may be cleaned up now and the fires may have went out, but the dealings of these losses is far from over.
My prayer is that Tennessee would be an example to the rest of the U.S. on how to handle pain, trauma, loss, and devastation. That other cities, counties and states would see the team mentality of the fire fighters, for example, who traveled from other cities to help fight this fire. I pray that other people who are still reeling from a tragedy or a loss are inspired by what they hear/read/see of Tennesseans in this aftermath.
I LOVE my home state. I have had the opportunity to travel to some different places and while they each have had their varied allures, nothing ever feels as good as home. I have ALWAYS been proud to be a Tennessee Volunteer, but never more so than NOW!! My prayers are with everyone from the bus crash, tornados and wild fires. I hope these tunes encourage and remind you today that it is great to be a Tennessee Vol!!!