The picture on the left was taken at the tail end of a tour of (flooded and unflooded) New Orleans I gave a visiting friend last weekend. The building that hosts this mural of the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising event lives across the street from our World War II museum and is being torn down as part of the museum expansion. What’s sad is that it was painted by participants of the pre-Katrina Prison Wall Mural Program – a nicely-done piece of New Orleans history is bulldozed away.
Even sadder is that the tearing down of the mural reminds me of America today as we demolish the foreign relations and goodwill created by our forebears. The image on the right above is the grounds of Alfred Lawless High School in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, 19.25 months after the storm and flood. A destroyed school in a destroyed neighborhood untouched for a shamefully long time. Is this indicative of the democracy our forefathers took abroad and fought and died for? When Americans ask for better education, better healthcare, better social programs that help us help ourselves … better investment in America itself … we are told it costs money.Money.
Back to the sharply varying shades of reality here: What appalls me the most are homeowners in Lakeview and more affluent sections of Gentilly and New Orleans East who have the resources to gut or demolish their homes, but ran away from their responsibility. Nineteen months later, large houses and mansions sit locked in the time freeze of August 29, 2005 added to only by mold, rats, roaches, vagrants and decay. What’s their excuse?
I can go on and on as I did with my friend until she got here. After one long look around, she got it and I had little more to say. YOU should come here, too. Inhale destruction, abandonment and renewal right here in your nation. Until then, I hope these pictures give you a tiny shred of an idea.