Bringing People Together during The Blizzard of 1978



Who remembers the Blizzard of 1978? This catastrophic, early February nor'easter  dumped record amounts of snow on us Bostonians, not to mention hurricane-like winds. I've heard a few times through the years that that this storm killed more than 100 people and injured over 4,500.

The tragic outcomes of the storm will always be etched in our sympathetic and empathetic New England hearts and souls.  Tragedy, however, also brings some positive aspects that we can learn from, and the Blizzard of 1978 was no exception. I remember best the way people came together to help each other out. There was goodwill everywhere -- we saw the news features on television covering this topic that centered on the help coming from church, state and community. We saw countless examples of unbounded selflessness in our own Arlington neighborhood. I think back fondly on having to walk everywhere and people stopping us to say "hello," and making sure everything was OK. It wasn't just a going-through-the-motions talk -- people really became closer and took a general interest in each other.  People shoveled and snowplowed for each other, knocked on neighbor's doors to make sure they were OK and keeping the elderly and disabled first in mind. I saw more people smiling in one week of adversity than a whole year of normal daily life. It was true testimony to the decency of the people in our country.

We had quite a few days off from school. It was a great time to sled, build a snow fort out front and watch a few more cartoons on television. The news coverage and political response was tremendous, too, as you will witness in the video above. As examples, Ted O'Brien's anchoring was stellar, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis' genuine concern a political revelation (even though I wasn't a big fan of his governing, in general) and meteorologist Harvey Leonard was his usual excellent self -- and with so much more hair! Harvey, as many of you know, is the chief meteorologist on WCVB-TV, Channel 5.

I truly feel we can apply the goodwill of the Blizzard of 1978 to today's world where our nation has often become derailed on the most fundamental, most important aspects of life. As I have currently become nauseated by the lying, attacking and dirty tricks that impeded this recent presidential election -- and the overall divide of this great country -- I think back to times like the Blizzard of 1978 as a role model for people putting aside their differences for the love and concern of their fellow neighbor. Yes, our society was much less divided then but it wasn't exactly a "Leave it to Beaver" era, either, with a growing distrust of government and a "me decade" all too often favoring greed, narcissim and various excesses over "loving thy neighbor," and doing what was best for society.

It's ironic, isn't it, that such a monstrous storm brought about so much sunshine to our daily lives in the form of placing others before oneself.  Wouldn't it be nice if everyday was like that, but without storms of any kind?              

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