Several defining moments in the history of the United States have taken place in and around the city of New Orleans. This week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and its residents experienced a defining moment of its own. A defining moment that could either bring it back from the brink of near extinction or one that could push it closer to the brink of financial collapse. This past Thursday, the city council voted 7-0 to authorize 2.7 million dollars in expenditures to covering police overtime and other carnival expenses. According to news reports, Council members offered no thoughts on where the nearly broke city will find the cash, choosing to spend now and worry later. There is no doubt that this decision by the New Orleans City Council is one that will be debated vigourously by local residents for some time to come.
But when you look past the financial ramifications of the council's decision, you see and hear a bold statement from the leadership in New Orleans to the rest of the country that the "Crescent City" may be down, but it's not out. It's the latest of many steps forward and the first of many more to come on the road to recovery for New Orleans.
For now this Mardi Gras, scaled back as it may be, is giving the residents who refused to leave their city and those who have come back the opportunity to get some sense normalcy back in their lives. And it's reminding the rest of us that one of America's great treasures when it comes to history, music, and food won't give up without a fight.
Personally, I'm cheering them on and can't wait for the chance to visit there again.
(originally posted 2-19-06 on Yahoo 360)