Friday, January 22, 2010

A found poem:

Although it's been in the news all week and many of us are feeling information overload, I want to highlight the words of our President in response to the earthquake in Haiti. I think it is important for us to pause and think about what it says about us; what it says about our country and our leadership, and by extension what it says about each one of us with the power to vote and speak and act. That our President says these words to us and to the world is important. Let us listen again, and respond.

(AFP/Jim Watson)
Obama on Haiti

His first ever tweet.
As he moved about the room,
where large maps of Port-au-Prince were tacked to the walls,
he stopped at a media team desk
and hit the "Send" button on a message
that had just been typed on Twitter:
"President Obama and the First Lady are here."
"We're just here to say 'thank you'
for the great work you're doing."

"Good morning, everybody.
We are just now beginning to learn the extent of the devastation,
but the reports and images that we've seen
of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes,
those trapped beneath the rubble,
and men and women carrying their injured neighbors
through the streets
are truly heart-wrenching.

For a people who are no strangers to hardship and suffering,
this tragedy seems especially cruel and incomprehensible.
In the last week,
we have been deeply moved by the heartbreaking images
of the devastation in Haiti:
parents searching through rubble for sons and daughters;
children, frightened and alone,
looking for their mothers and fathers.
At this moment,
families seek shelter in makeshift camps.
It is a horrific scene of shattered lives
already suffered so much.

Let me just say that this is a time when we are reminded
of the common humanity that we all share.
With just a few hundred miles of ocean between us
and a long history that binds us together,
Haitians are neighbors of the Americans here at home.
So we have to be there for them in their hour of need.
Despite the fact that we are experiencing tough times,
I would encourage Americans
to learn how to contribute.

We must be prepared for difficult hours and days ahead
as we learn about the scope of the tragedy.
We will keep the victims and their families in our prayers.
We will be resolute in our response,
and I pledge to the people of Haiti
that you will have a friend and partner
in the United States of America
today and going forward.

May God bless the people;
those working on their the strength;
people who have been stricken with a tragic history,
even as they have shown great resilience;
to reclaim the momentum that they achieved
showing hopeful signs of political and economic progress
as the tremors fade and Haiti no longer tops the headlines,
[may they]
continue on their path to a brighter future.

We act because of the close ties
that we have with a neighbor
that is only a few hundred miles to the south.
But above all,
we act for a very simple reason:
in times of tragedy,
the United States of America
steps forward and helps.
That is who we are.
That is what we do.

We do not use our power
to subjugate others,
we use it to lift them up—
At no time is that
more true than in moments of
great peril and human suffering.
It is why we have acted.

When we show not just our power,
but also our compassion, we
show the character of our country.
Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen,
hand in hand with our civilians,
they're laboring day and night
to facilitate a massive logistical enterprise;
to deliver and distribute food, water, and medicine to save lives;
and to prevent an even larger humanitarian catastrophe.

We are reminded that life can be unimaginably cruel.
That pain and loss is so often meted out
without any justice or mercy.
That "time and chance"
happen to us all.
But it is also in these moments,
when we are brought face to face with our own fragility,
that we rediscover our common humanity.
We look into the eyes of another
and see ourselves.

- the words of President Barak Obama, January 2010
-photo and opening stanza quotes from a Yahoo news article posted on Jan. 18, 2010

The Friday Poetry round up is hosted by Liz in Ink. Congratulations to her for her fabulous All the World getting a Caldacott Honor award this week!


jama said...

Thanks for posting this today, Andi. It was good reading these words and letting them soak in a little more.

Lone Star Ma said...

I love the president.

Anonymous said...

I have to read this again. And again...

Thanks, Andi!

Sara said...

Thanks. The news from Haiti overwhelms me. This helps.

tanita davis said...

That is who we are.
That is what we do.


Mary Lee said...

I'm going to read this to my students. This is what I want 9 and 10 year-olds to understand about their country, about government, about power, about "who we are" and "what we do." They must learn to become the best of what our nation stands for, and they can learn it from this speech.

Crafty Green Poet said...

yes thanks for posting this, what happened in Haiti is just such an overwhelming tragedy

Анна said...

Hello, World!

a. fortis said...

Thank you for enabling me to sit and ponder these words, to really think about them. Truly a found poem.

Lisa said...

Hello, Just bloghopping. Great blog!

Be Well :)