Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In Tornado's Wake, Worried Parents Seek out Kids

The parents and guardians stood in the muddy grass outside an Oklahoma City area church, listening as someone with a bullhorn called out the names of children who were being dropped off — survivors of a deadly tornado that barreled through their community.
For many families, the ordeal ended in bear hugs and tears of joy as loved ones reunited. Others were left to wait in the darkness, hoping for good news while fearing the worst.
At least seven children are among the 24 reported dead so far in Moore, the Oklahoma City suburb ravaged by Monday's tornado that packed winds of up to 200 mph. The twister reduced one elementary school to a heaping mound of rubble and heavily damaged another while also flattening block after block of homes. Officials earlier said more than 50 people had died, including 20 children. The medical examiner's office revised that death toll Tuesday morning, saying some victims were maybe counted twice in the initial confusion after the storm.
At St. Andrews United Methodist Church, parents stared into the distance as they waited, some holding the hands of young children who were missing siblings.
Tonya Sharp and Deanna Wallace sat at a table in the church's gymnasium waiting for their teenage daughters. As Sharp and Wallace spoke, a line of students walked in.
Severe Weather.JPEG
Wallace spotted her 16-year-old daughter, who came quickly her way and jumped into her mother's arms, pushing her several steps backward in the process. But Sharp didn't see her daughter, a 17-year-old who has epilepsy. She worried her daughter hadn't taken her medicine.
"I don't know where she's at," Sharp said. Later, she went to speak to officials who helped her register so she could be notified as soon as her daughter was found.
Shelli Smith had to walk miles to find her children. She was reunited with her 14-year-old daughter, Tiauna, around 5 p.m. Monday, but hadn't yet seen her 16-year-old son, TJ, since he left for school that morning.
TJ's phone had died, but he borrowed a classmate's phone to tell his mother where he was. However, Smith couldn't get to him due to the roadblocks. So she parked her car and started walking.
It took her three hours, but a little after sunset, she found him. She grabbed her son and squeezed him in a tight hug that lasted for several seconds before letting go. TJ hugged his sister, and then hugged his mom again.
The family had a long walk back to their car and then home, but she said she didn't mind.
"I was trying to get him and they wouldn't let me," she said, adding later: "I was like, 'You know what? I'm going to get my son.'"
Renee Lee summed up the struggle for many parents with multiple children — find the ones who they hadn't yet seen, while calming the younger ones they had with them.
Lee is the mother of two daughters Sydney Walker, 16, and Hannah Lee, 8. When the storm came, she tried to pick Sydney up from school. Sydney told her on the phone that they wouldn't let her come in. While Lee and her younger daughter waited in their home, which wasn't hit, Sydney was safe in the room at a local high school.
Lee said she believed Sydney wasn't hurt and seemed resigned to the severe weather outbreaks.
"There's been so many of them, it doesn't even faze me," she said. "You just do what you gotta do. It's part of living here."
Associated Press reporters Jeannie Nuss and Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.
- ABC News

Prayers are with victims and families of tornado in Oklahoma.

We can only pray that families find strength after the tragedy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers day musing on miracle in Bangladesh

While the tragedy in Bangladesh was heart wrenching, it was also extremely heartening to read of the story of survival.
Reshma Begum, a young mother of a five-year-old child  survived the tragedy, making all of us believers in miracles.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dignity and death. Is there is difference between burying a dead man and a dead terrorist?

The media in America was all abuzz with strong views on the plight of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body. (Ref LA Times)

At the outset, one must start by saying that the act of terror committed by Tsarnaev was unconscionable.  And one might also go as far as suggesting that his untimely death was a consequence of his actions; as you sow, so you reap if you will.

One can also argue that his death provides a sense of closure, at least to him and his family. If closure were even the right word to use, especially since the families of the three killed in Boston and more than 140 victims hurt in Boston Marathon bombing will continue to question the senseless of this all.  But that is not the issue here.

At the heart is the question if an accused terror suspect killed during a manhunt can and should be buried in this land. Remember, Tsarnaev has not been tried or sentenced by a court of law but nevertheless strong evidence points to his culpability in the crime.

  • Murder suspects and criminals of all stripes, even those die in jail or die at the hands of jailors are routinely buried, many in a low-key manner. Massachusetts Funeral Directors Assn. spokesman David Walkinshaw was quoted saying "If you look back, historically, to cases of mass murderers and things of the like, usually after the death of the person involved, the media coverage of the person goes away … and the body is usually taken care of by the state or the next of kin, but it’s usually done very quietly” said Walkinshaw, noting that cremation is a common route in such cases.
  • Islamic angle:   Cremation is typically disfavored in Islamic burial customs. Tamerlan Tsarnaev happened to be a Muslim. There again, one might argue that criminals or suspected criminals who happened to be Muslim have also been buried on American soil.
  • Foreign angle: American legal system and  the public favors bringing criminals and terrorists to justice, in American courts where possible. For example, suspects of the infamous 9/11 terror attack are being tried New York. What happens if/when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York happen to die? Will there again be a debate around returning their “bodies” to their native lands?

I guess there are no simple questions or answers here. However, passion in the heat of the moment should not overrule basic human sensibilities. Burying the dead is a basic human act.
Surely we can show we are more dignified towards the dead than those who plot against us. This is an opportunity for Americans to stand up and show we are better than terrorists!

Other links
  • Officials pass the buck on burying Tamerlan Tsarnaev - LA Times
  • Marathon Suspect’s Body Is Ready for Burial. The Question Remains: Where?  NY Times blog
  • Where do we put Tamerlan Tsarnaev? - Washington Post blog