ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
We hope our articles about the ’51 Flood in Marion County remind us not so much of the sometimes brutal and uncontrollable fury of Mother Nature, but of the resilience and kindness of people in the face of almost unimaginable tragedy.
We would never wish a natural or human catastrophe on anyone or any community, but it seems to take those kinds of events for people to open themselves to others in meaningful and selfless ways. People who volunteer to serve on the front lines of caring seldom have time to harp on disagreements, dwell on differences, or complain about petty discomforts.
During those mid-July days in 1951, it seems most Marion Countians no longer saw themselves as belonging to Hillsboro or Marion, Peabody or Florence. They didn’t see rivalries or think in stereotypes, they forgot past misunderstandings and mistakes. Instead, they saw themselves as ordinary, vulnerable folk, either in need of a hand or having a hand to offer. Those who needed help and those who helped united as one. They were more than neighbors. They were family.
As we said, we don’t wish for another tragic occasion to make us better people than we normally are. But we do yearn to be better, to be closer-to be abnormal-more of the time. True heroes take steps in that direction even when times are prosperous and good.