- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2006

NEW ORLEANS — In the Hollygrove neighborhood, above the sagging telephone poles, broken fences and the blue tarps on the roofs, the man in the moon is looking down on the Little League games being played here, across the street from houses with their matching FEMA trailers. During Katrina, this field was under several feet of floodwater. Life, like the flow of the great Mississippi River, moves on.

It’s Wednesday evening and people cram the roadsides looking for a parking space to deliver their kids to the game. Wearing their jerseys with numbers, knicker pants and cleats, many already caked with the dirt of previous games, the players, boys and girls, haul their bags around with the bats and gloves slung over their shoulders. Some stand in line at the concession stand where you can buy a hot dog — or a plate of jambalaya. This is baseball, New Orleans style.

The homes around the field — ratty, beaten down, and broken — are like lost souls, marked for dead by the waterlines still visible high up on the walls.

Under a blue- and magenta-painted sky, full of soft clouds and airplane trails, the dust suddenly flies at second base. A steal! Now another, arms and legs pumping, flying and sliding across home! The crowd erupts: People jump from their seats on the old wooden plank benches, reaching for the heavens, their high-pitched yells piercing the silence of the dead neighborhood.

Smoke drifts from the grill. Frozen hamburgers are tossed onto the fire, turning them into delicious examples of American cuisine here at the Carrollton Boosters Little League fields.

“You just had a cheeseburger at Bud’s,” my friend Cecile tells me. “You’re going to turn into a burger.” I know I just had a cheeseburger, but I’m on vacation in New Orleans … post-Katrina.

Why should New Orleans be rebuilt? Because her people live here. Why should a nation rebuild a city in so precarious a position? Because this place is a part of us. This city is a part of America, deep and rooted with a soul that connects all of us.

We as a nation are whole only when we as a people are whole. We come together, we stand up to the plate of fate and take our swing.

As she watches her son Alex play his position at third, Cecile Tebo says “Life goes on, you know? It just has to.”

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