Jewish World Review Sept. 265, 2001/ 8 Tishrei, 5762

Gayle A. Cox

Gayle Allen Cox
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Sadly, the green trees among us don't get a lot of attention -- John F. Kennedy once said: "Only in winter can you tell which trees are truly green. Only when the winds of adversity blow can you tell whether a country has courage and steadfastness."

Due to the dastardly deeds of unspeakably evil men, America is in the throes of her coldest winter ever. What couldn't have been imagined yesterday is a reality today: Terror has invaded her shores.

The news leaves us shivering; the sights leave us numb. But make no mistake about it - America is full of green trees.

Many of them are laboring, tirelessly, at ground zero in Lower Manhattan and Washington. The task before them is ominous and exhausting - both physically and emotionally - but like massive evergreens in the toughest of conditions, they will survive the cold.

And they are not alone.

From sea to shining sea, all across the fruited plain, America's green trees are everywhere - giving blood, praying prayers, donating massive amounts to charity. They are acting out the familiar passage of Scripture: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Space won't allow me to name the many green trees in America's forest, but consider the Atlanta-based Home Depot stores. If any corporation has gone the extra mile in this time of unprecedented adversity, it has.

Within minutes of the terrorist attacks, Home Depot set up response teams to monitor the disaster. Once the needs were evaluated, it immediately sent crucial supplies to the affected zones.

Home Depot donated power tools, flashlights, metal cutters, hardhats and generators.

It delivered truckloads of pressure-treated lumber to secure the Pentagon site.

It outfitted local law enforcement and rescue personnel with much-needed masks, tools and gloves. And last, but not least, it donated $1 million to th

e United Way. "We realize that there is a great deal of pain and suffering as a result of this tragedy," said Robert L. Nardelli, president and CEO. "Home Depot stands by, ready to assist our nation in whatever way we can with the disaster relief effort."

What a towering evergreen!

And there are countless others just like them.

Rich. Poor. Young. Old. America's sturdiest, greenest trees are standing together, battling the bleakest of conditions without one complaint.

In fact, they have given so much of their blood and their provisions that authorities are asking that they slow down a bit, wait a few days, give them some time to organize and use what they already have.

All across the land, flags are flying as if to say: "America will endure! Her forests are green! The starkest of winters can't topple her trees!"

Sadly, the green trees among us don't get a lot of attention - at least not on ordinary days. From a journalistic point of view, they don't make very interesting stories. They are boring, mundane and predictable as the morning sun.

They get up, go to their jobs and do whatever is necessary to keep their families and their country functioning. They don't drown their children, slaughter their classmates or kill their boyfriends and ex-wives.

They have no time for protests, riots or road rage. They are normal people doing normal things, day after day, week after week. Clearly, they aren't appropriate material for the evening news.

But the green trees don't mind. They don't seek public recognition anyway. And perhaps that is what makes them green: They require very little attention to survive.

Personally, I would like to see more news stories about the green trees of America's forest - not just during horrendous times such as these but during good times as well.

After all, America's green trees didn't just pop up on Sept. 11. They have been around as long as America has been around, and they never fail to inspire.

Maybe in the future, news organizations will add a "green tree" section to each of their broadcasts, elevating good over evil. They really should, you know. For every dead tree taking up space in America's forest, at least 1,000 green ones grow.

JWR contributor Gayle Allen Cox writes from Fort Worth. Comment on this column by clicking here.


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© 2001, Gayle Allen Cox