Victory, honor, truth, value , vitality , warmth , fertility ,expansion ,protection, aspiration, attainment, unification… all characteristic of an entity in nature.. All qualities of what our forefathers found to exemplify a nation. A nation filled with revolutionaries.
Upon gazing at a palm tree, I seldom think of Hurricane Flora, who struck the south west peninsula of Haiti in 1963, one of the deadliest hurricanes in our history wiping out thousands of lives and leaving over a hundred thousand homeless.
At 7 years of age, my father’s life was changed forever.
After a restless night filled with strong winds, rain and prayer, the 7am radio news broadcaster exclaimed that school was postponed for yet another week. This little boy’s contentment could be readily seen across this toothless smile.”What could possibly be more wonderful?” He thought. “..one more week filled with soccer till dawn, trios-sept with his sisters, quality time with his nomadic father.” His imagination ran wild.
The solemn look on his papa’s face was slightly disturbing and rather mysterious. Why didn’t his father share his excitement? Has his father not heard the news?
He clenched his papa hands as they both slipped through the tall cedar door and peeked outside. He followed his father’s footsteps up the rocky hill that led up to the overlook of their small village, Casanet, Beaumont, and finally he understood.
Everything was annihilated. Their young peasant family had lost almost everything. As his tiny palms clung on to his somber Papa’s finger tips, they surveyed the once rich, green and fertile mountain tops. Entire towns were buried by landslides, and their once so fertile lands filled with ample vegetation were entirely destroyed by the inland flooding. As they screened the land there was only one standing monument, which was rather perplexing to a 7 year old boy. So he asked “Papa why is that palm still standing?...”
Our national tree, le palmier, stood taller and rose above. The evergreen looked up toward heaven and performed exquisitely in this deadly storm. A few short hours ago, the strong winds attempted to tear it down, havoc wreaked as the 60 foot edifice swayed from side to side, witnessing hundreds of homes crumble to their feet. And that day, it served as a symbol of hope to a tiny, seven year old boy. The palm, a symbol of protection, peace, and opportunity, has served as the tree of life to this family as it had to millions for thousand of years.
In the midst of what appeared to be the most horrific day of the year, stood a symbol of victory, a symbol of resilience. My father stared up at his father and couldn’t help but wear a huge grin, as if they shared a secret no one else would ever understand.
This wasn’t the end; it was only the beginning of a new season. A season filled with joy, happiness, love, and hope.