Good Monday Morning, friends. Jolly Monday will return in its usual format next week, but for today, without apology, I am doing something a bit different. I came across something that I felt was a timely reminder and important for us all to read, to think about, to remember. This came from a Facebook page I follow, the Jon S. Randal Peace Page.
In 2005, a foreign army made its way toward the southern border of the United States.
As the convoy and troops passed Mexican villages on its way to the U.S., people in the villages cheered, waved, honked car horns and rang bells to support the mission of their troops.The Mexican army, its trucks emblazoned with large Mexican flags, crossed the border at Laredo at dawn and advanced up Interstate 35, arriving in San Antonio later that day. The Mexican Navy would also send ships, buses and helicopters. It was the first Mexican military operation on U.S. soil in 90 years.
Mexico had sent its people to help and feed their neighbors – tens of thousands of homeless and hungry Americans displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
To backtrack, in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. It would be one of the worst disasters in U.S. history, and it became obvious very early on that U.S. aid agencies and relief/support was overwhelmed. People in Mexico were horrified to see scenes of floating corpses and botched relief efforts.
Mexican President Vicente Fox would send his condolences to President George W. Bush, saying, “In the name of the people and of the government of Mexico, I assure you of my deepest and most sincere condolences for the devastating effects caused by Hurricane Katrina”. He would also instruct the Secretary of Foreign Affairs its neighbor to the North would be provided with any kind of help that was needed.
“This is just an act of solidarity between two peoples who are brothers,” said Fox’s spokesman, Ruben Aguilar.
The Mexican government, with support from its citizens, would send a 45-vehicle convoy, which included two mobile kitchens, three flatbed trucks carrying mobile water-treatment plants and 15 trailers of bottled water, blankets and applesauce, according to CBS News.
The 195 Mexicans taking part included military specialists, doctors, nurses and engineers.According to the Washington Post, the Mexican soldiers set up camp at a former Air Force base outside San Antonio, where they distributed potable water, medical supplies and 7,000 hot meals a day for the next three weeks.
The Mexican army even brought beef to serve their neighbors, but the USDA blocked the distribution. Undeterred, the Mexicans bought their beef locally.
According to former diplomat Stephen R. Kelly, by the time the Mexican army completed their mission, the Mexicans had served 170,000 meals, helped distribute more than 184,000 tons of supplies and conducted more than 500 medical consultations at a time when the United States was struggling to provide aid to its own citizens in devastated areas.Mexican sailors also assisted with clearing downed branches and other storm debris in Biloxi, Mississippi, where they posed for photos with President George W. Bush, who thanked them for their help.
Kelly, who was a former U.S. diplomat who served in Mexico from 2004 to 2006, would say, “this doesn’t sound like the Mexico you’ve been hearing about lately — the one that has been ripping America off, the one that sends rapists and criminals across the border . . . it was an extraordinary gesture” of humanity from our Southern neighbor.