There are few things that you can encounter wherever you go. Air tends to be one of them, but air is boring compared to love.
You can go into the darkest hell-holes on earth and you will still find love. A number of years ago now, I was fortunate to travel to India in a trip with writers and publicists in order to understand more about the human trafficking problem in the world, and in particular India. We were there because a church had made a feature movie, Not Today, about the problem. We didn’t go to the Taj Mahal or the beautiful mountains on the Nepalese border…we went to slums in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai…to see the poverty, oppression and conditions for ourselves. It was an experience that I’ll never forget – nor do I want to forget it – I want it to stick with me for as long as I live. Each morning when I awaken in a comfortable bed with food and a shower awaiting me, I need to be reminded of what life is like in such places.
But you know what you find in those slums? You find love. Love of parent for child, of one spouse for another, for parents, for siblings, for neighbors and friends. You find love of a human for a pet, love of music, love of the sunshine and refreshing breeze. Love, you see, truly is everywhere because love doesn’t need perfect conditions to take root and grow. All it needs is a soft heart.
And so it was that on a recent morning while in Portland, Oregon, I was walking with my oldest son and we came across flowers laid out between the sidewalk and the street in the shape of a heart. Who put them there? I don’t know. What, or who, were they in love with? I don’t know that, either – perhaps they were just in love with life. It doesn’t really matter, though, because wherever love is people can laugh and smile and hold one another closely. And that makes life – and love – worth it all.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1974, 148 tornadoes hit the United States heartland within 16 hours. By the time the deadly storm ended, 330 people had died. This was the largest grouping of tornadoes recorded in its time, affecting 11 states and Ontario, Canada. At any one moment during the storm, there were as many as 15 separate tornadoes touching the ground.
The storm began over the Ohio River Valley. The first twister hit Lincoln, Illinois, at about 2 p.m. and, within hours, others made landfall over a range of hundreds of miles across several states. The deadly storm did not end until early the next morning. In all, it caused 22 F4 tornadoes, with winds over 207 mph, and six F5 tornadoes, with winds over 261 mph.
The worst-hit location was Xenia, Ohio, where, with little warning of the impending catastrophe, 35 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured. It is believed that, had the tornado not hit after school had ended for the day, the casualties would have been far higher. In the aftermath, it took 200 trucks three months to haul away all the rubble in Xenia.
Brandenburg, Kentucky, was also badly hit. The town lost 31 people and 250 were seriously hurt. The entire downtown was demolished, causing many millions of dollars in damages. In Indiana, a school bus was pushed 400 feet off a road, killing the driver. The Tennessee Valley Authority suffered the worst damage to its power operations to that date.
In all, 50,000 people were directly impacted by the tornadoes. Six states were declared federal disaster areas. In response, many towns installed tornado-warning sirens in an effort to minimize future damage from deadly twisters.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In Holland’s embassy in Moscow, Russia, the staff noticed that the two Siamese cats kept meowing and clawing at the walls of the building. Their owners finally investigated, thinking they would find mice. Instead, they discovered microphones hidden by Russian spies. The cats heard the microphones when they turned on.