The Heart of the Heartland

Jim Routon gives his  young neighbor Hezekiah Darbon a bear hug after the child was pulled from the wreckage of his school in Moore, OK.

Jim Routon gives his young neighbor Hezekiah Darbon a bear hug after the child was pulled from the wreckage of his school in Moore, OK.

When an EF-5 tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma last week, it left 24 people dead, including 7 children who perished when their school took a direct hit from the monster storm.  Once the danger passed and the stories of miraculous survival emerged, we once again—as we usually do when things like this happen—saw something that couldn’t be crushed:  the American Spirit.

Within minutes of the storm’s passing, people rushed to help their neighbors.  Parents and other concerned citizens quickly mobilized around both Briarwood Elementary and Plaza Towers Elementary Schools.  Many volunteers formed a human chain to pass children from the wreckage of their schools into the waiting arms of their parents.  For Briarwood first grader Hezekiah Darbon, it wasn’t his parents’ familiar faces he saw when he first came out, but it was his neighbor, Jim Routon.  Their emotional reunion was caught on tape by KFOR-TV and their picture (above) spread rapidly across the internet.  Routon considers 6-year-old Hezekiah to be his “part-time kid”, and the two of them have been neighbors for four years.  Hezekiah’s relationship with Routon is so special that he gave himself the nickname “Little Dog” and calls Routon “Big Dog”.  Routon said, “Just to come on and to not expect anything good to come from what I saw and then to see my ‘Little Dog’ here run up…we’re very blessed.  We feel very, very blessed.”

During tough times, Americans never seem to fail to respond to their neighbors in need, even though they themselves may have lost so much.  Also, as always seems to happen with every hurricane, tornado or other catastrophes, donations from strangers across the country have been pouring into the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations since the storm hit.

Many Oklahomans, like Governor Mary Fallin, rely on their faith when tragedy strikes.  Governor Fallin said, “I have a pretty strong faith, and I trust that God will make all things work together … I have to show courage and strength during this time, because people are depending upon me.”

Some of the residents of Moore are battle-tested when it comes to tornadoes.  The town saw two previous storms that were just as violent as the one last Monday come through in 1999 and 2003…both of which followed nearly identical paths as last week.  Governor Fallin credits the resiliency of Oklahomans for their ability to bounce back after taking such a massive blow from Mother Nature.  When asked why they don’t just pack up and move to a place less prone to these massive storms, she replied, “Because this is their home.”

The pride and love of the land that those residents in Oklahoma seem to have for their state is older than America itself.  It’s that kind of people that built this nation:   resilient, hard-working, faithful…and willing to help each other in hardship.  God bless them as they rebuild their town and their lives.

Since today is Memorial Day, please take the time to remember the brave men and women from our founding until today who gave the ultimate sacrifice in their service to the United States.

“It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed…the habits of a vigorous mind are formed contending with difficulties…Great necessities call out great virtues.”- Abigail Adams, former First Lady of the United States

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