I have explored every corner of the United States, but I have been blessed to call North Carolina home since the day I was born. North Carolina is known for pristine beaches, beautiful mountain ranges, and rich history…..but most of all, we are known for our PEOPLE! While my heart has always bled “tarheel blue”, I have never been more proud to be a North Carolinian than I am right now!
Over the past week, I have watched neighbors helping neighbors - boarding windows and securing boats. I have watched business owners feed residents and send supplies with evacuees. While we have all lost a lot to hurricane Florence, we have also been shown the honor of being called North Carolinians. Our emergency services personnel has worked countless hours, risking their lives for the safety of our residents. Photographs are floating around with destruction that seems to be unreal. While these images can be disheartening, my heart is full. I have seen countless images of neighbors and communities coming together, rescue teams not only within North Carolina, but as far as New York City and Louisiana coming to our aid. The outpour of love is overwhelming.
I live on the tiny island of Emerald Isle, off the coast of North Carolina and I am no stranger to hurricanes. Actually, I usually take these warnings with a grain of salt, however this week the discussions of hurricane Florence caught my attention in a different way. Call it a gut feeling, call it a sixth sense, whatever it may have been - North Carolinians knew something was different about Flo. Leaving our homes behind can be a very difficult decision, but many have with heavy hearts. Mandatory evacuations were issued in places that have never been issued before. Suddenly inland counties were preparing like coastal counties. Over the course of the next few days, we watched the water rise, cars be swept away and homes and businesses fill with water. As Flo hovered over our state, it was if time stood still. We helplessly watched the water rush in and steal pieces of our lives.
North Carolina is not new to devastation. From as far back as the 1500’s North Carolina has experienced adversity. From The Lost Colony to the Civil War, we know devastation. One thing about the people of North Carolina is we know how to overcome and persevere. Although we have experienced a huge loss in the aftermath of Florence, we have already started to assess, unite, and rebuild. North Carolina is the foundation of many new beginnings. In the 1500’s after months of hardship, death, and disease North Carolina was a new beginning for John White and his colonists. North Carolina has always been a place of hope! We advanced the world in aviation and became the first in flight. We have always taken hard times and turned them into miracles. North Carolinians took something as controversial as the prohibition and turned it into moonshine, eventually creating a NASCAR empire. In the late 1800’s, a fellow North Carolinian, took a small pharmacy in New Bern and created a Pepsi enterprise, to eventually lose it all. This bad business decision didn’t stop North Carolina.….. with perseverance we took this downfall and built the Pepsi brand that is now on Forbes world’s most valuable brands list. North Carolinians have always been strong, we have always turned a bad situation into nothing short of a miracle.
North Carolina soil has taken a beaten through settlement, war, and hurricanes. One thing that always holds true is that we always unite together and fight back. Today, we face devastation beyond our control, but like always, we will show the world that we can’t be broken. We work together, unite together, help our neighbors and take pride in our love of community. The state motto for North Carolina is “Esse quam videri” which translates to “To be rather than to seem”. I can’t think of a better description of the North Carolina spirit. We look disaster in the eye, roll up our sleeves and take care of our people! We have lost roads, homes, and lives - but we have not lost the fire in our bellies. Today and always, we are proud to call North Carolina “home sweet home”.