By Tom Freeman
April 7, 2021
The talking heads say America is more divided than it has ever been both racially and politically. “They” say there is more hate than there has ever been. Well, “they” have never been to Newnan, Georgia.
My small-but-growing town southwest of Atlanta was struck by an EF-4 tornado during the dark of night on the last Thursday of March. Newnan, which calls itself the “City of Homes,” took a direct hit from the tornado. The tornado devastated homes of Black and white people. Old and beautiful trees of our city were destroyed in the blink of an eye. The tornado ruined all 13 buildings of Newnan High School.
Yet, as the last two weeks have shown, the human spirit is uncrushable. Storm survivors relate that they are okay and will recover. They are glad to be alive. They plan to rebuild.
Tom Freeman is a longtime Newnan resident. He owns a private counseling practice serving children and adults.
Before sunrise on that fateful Friday, regular citizens from all over the area showed up with chainsaws in their hands ready to clear debris. They came in trucks and they came in four-wheelers ready to work. These volunteers came in droves and swarmed the wrecked neighborhoods.
Restaurant owners came in their food trucks giving out food to whoever needed it. Parents with their children in tow handed out water, granola bars, and food. Chick-Fil-A even showed up on Sunday morning handing out chicken biscuits. Churches sprung into action on a moment’s notice, organizing their ranks to help in any way they could. Counselors organized to provide crisis counseling. Girl Scouts made their own cookies with encouraging notes.
White people helped Black people. Black people helped white people. People of all races hugged and cried together. Color and political creed didn’t matter these last weeks. All that mattered was, “how can I help you?” Whatever political or racial divisions the talking heads lament on TV dissipated. What was on display was humans caring for one another. This is the human spirit. This is the American way. Whatever “they” say about the demise of our country, I say look at people helping people in Newnan, Georgia.
I still believe in the human spirit. I still believe in the American spirit. I still believe in U.S.