RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
In New Orleans yesterday, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church held a memorial concert for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
(Soundbite of music)
MONTAGNE: The storm made landfall two years ago this week.
And this morning, we'll here again from Chris Rose. He's a columnist for the New Orleans' Times-Picayune. And he's become one of our barometers of the city's mood.
This morning, he begins our weeklong look at people who've made a difference since the storm.
CHRIS ROSE: One of the big media themes this week seems to be why do you people stay? Environmentally, socially, politically, isn't it plain to see that New Orleans is not fixable? I think it's time to think differently about it. It's time for folks around the country to look at us not as stubborn, intractable and borderline nuts, but instead as sources of inspiration, as people willing to risk it all to save one of the great cities of the world. We're heroes, damn it, plain and simple. And we fight to save New Orleans, not only for us, but for you.
A reader of my newspaper column, a woman named Judy Deck(ph), once sent me this e-mail. If it weren't for New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom.
That's only a marginal exaggeration. We have created music, literature, architecture, cuisine and lifestyle on a scale which no other American culture will ever match. You're probably tired of hearing us say that ours is America's most treasured and interesting city, but, well, it is.
So, no, we're not willing to walk away. And you shouldn't expect us to. Hell, you shouldn't allow us to. Life is difficult here, an emotional and financial ringer to be sure. But we have learned that the most important four-letter word in the English language is not love. It's home. That's what New Orleans remains for a few hundred thousand of us. And if the Japanese and the Dutch can figure out how to preserve their vulnerable, low-lying communities, we refuse be part of a movement that says we can't do it in America because it's too expensive, too complicated or - and this is the worst part - too political.
Politics be damned. While all the king's horses and all the king's men are lost in a fog of uncertainty, incompetence and blame - your tax dollars at work -the regular folks of this city have been working diligently, heroically, to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Two years after Katrina, the response you still get when you tell someone you're from New Orleans is, oh, I'm so sorry. Well, that's an attitude that has to change, also. Living in New Orleans in the post-Katrina landscape is, by default, a meaningful existence. There is reward in all this destruction and sorrow. It is a life of determination and hope, of being part of a vital mission, a mission bigger than any of us. So don't be sorry for us. Be sorry for you. Because those of us from here have come to realize that as dog-weary and frustrating all of this is, the only thing worse than being in New Orleans as it struggles to regain its footing would be not being in New Orleans.
MONTAGNE: Chris Rose is the author of the book "One Dead in the Attic After Katrina."
Tomorrow, Donald and Karlyn Bordolan(ph) give us an update on rebuilding their home.
And later on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, we'll meet Katrina evacuees who've chosen not to return from Houston.
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