04 August 2007

Dispatches From The Twin CIties

The summer meeting of the Republican National Committee wound down last night under the pall of the bridge collapse along the Mississippi River. First Lady Laura Bush came by to offer her support and then shared a few words with the committee later. She was her usually classy self, putting things in perspective and why Americans always come up big when the times require it. Later Gov. Mitt Romney made a surprise visit and also showed why voters shouldn't underestimate his skills as a candidate. He was poised, upbeat, funny and respectful of the moment. Saturday morning, the President came down to the site as a slight rain further hampered rescue efforts. He met with a camp counselor who was credited with guided scores of children to safety.

The people of Minnesota responded much in the same way as people from any part of this country would in a crises - selflessly and eager to comfort those who suffered. The Democratic Mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul worked seamlessly with the Republican Governor and the Minnesota Legislators and Congressional delegation moved quickly to set up $250 million in aid to the cities.

Seeing the site resembled a battlefield - a bizarre tapestry of twisted green rebar, concrete and floating cars with blown out windows -like a child's toys in a bathtub. Friday night, the famed Guthrie Theater was showing a production of the musical "1776". The theater overlooks the bridge site and hundreds gathered inside and outside the venue to silently pay homage to the dead and the valor of the rescue workers. Some pointed, others took pictures while others prayed.

When the news broke on the collapse, the conference had barely begun. Many early arrivers were attending a reception downtown and could see the calamity from a terrace.

Others watched from the hotel lobby and one image stood out as the initial reports trickled in Wednesday night. Throughout the early hours, video report after video report caught a 30-ish firefighter, her blonde hair tied tightly behind her back, diving repeatedly around the wreckage, often disappearing for a half a minute at a time, before coming up and looking elsewhere for survivors.

Despite, the torrid current of the the river, rebar, glass, gasoline and God's knows what else, she didn't quit until night fell. She wore do protective gear or even had a lifeline.
She was later identified as Shanna Hanson a 34-year-old captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department, who was off-duty at the time. She went to the site with only a life jacket. She was embarrassed by the attention and frustrated that she couldn't do more to help. Typical American. What are you going to do with these people? Meanwhile, the RNC quietly ended its conference, said a prayer, and disbursed to the waiting cabs to the airport.


Anonymous said...

Did our national committee members attend? No mention of them.