“America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home.” – President Obama
I was thinking about this declaration last week as images of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy poured in on the news. With billions of dollars in damages and displacement of millions, rebuilding the east coast will be an enormous and costly undertaking. And before the rebuilding can even begin, the wreckage from the storm must first be cleared away.
It has been over a week since Marine Corps soldiers arrived in the New York City boroughs to help residents sort through the devastation that has replaced what used to be their neighborhoods. Housed aboard ships anchored offshore, soldiers have flown into the city each day to assist with cleanup and deliver food to residents.
Marines have surveyed damage, going door to door to clear debris, remove irreparably damaged possessions and appliances, tear down damaged drywall, and gut houses to make way for rebuilding efforts. They have pumped water out of waterlogged basements and helped with the restoration of crucial transportation infrastructure.
Our servicemen and women have been a source of hope and inspiration to people they are helping each day. “We are privileged to have them,” one New York resident said. “It gives you a sense of protection knowing that they are here in our time of need.”
While often our veterans are remembered for their heroic actions in combat, I am also thankful for their heroic work helping to repair and rebuild damage done, both here and abroad.