I'm almost certain this article will draw some, of
not a lot of criticism from some of you. I hope not,
but if you feel the need, let 'er rip.
Nine hours west of our home in Deltona, Florida and
just a little north, Katrina came to visit. And after
it was all said and done, immeasurable and unfathomable
destruction came to be in several of our southern States.
I visited New Orleans in 1991, if I recall that
to be the correct year, to attend the Federation
of Fly Fishers Southeastern Conclave as a guest
fly-tier. I had a great time. Met some extremely
friendly and easygoing folks who played host to
many fly-fishers that showed up from all over. Now
they are in serious trouble, and not just the
Louisiana residents, but the people of Mississippi,
Alabama and western Florida. Their lives that used
to exist, don't, and probably never will be the same
for some - for most, I'm afraid. It could have just
as easily been Linda and me, or you other Florida
folks. Think about it.
I sit and watch the news as the helicopters fly in
to neighborhoods, plucking scared, hungry, thirsty,
confused, injured, soaked, hot, wide-eyed folks from
rooftops and deposit them far and away from their
destroyed homes that only a few days earlier were
filled with the smells of cooking food, cool,
air-conditioning, framed photos of family members;
photos captured perhaps candidly at birthday parties
and weddings and anniversaries. Those are gone. The
food has either floated away, or rotted. There is no
electricity to power the stove where once stood a parent
laboring over it, cooking supper, or breakfast for her
or his kids as they laughed and giggled together. The
mementos, the important papers, the photos and albums...
gone. The home...gone. Some, or all of the family
members...gone. Katrina took it all, and those of us
that are fortunate, sit watching the news crews film
the devastation, and we shake our heads and discuss;
December 26, 2004. Where were you? Do you remember what
happened? Here's a reminder. Can you say, "Tsunami"? "Oh
yeah, now that you mention it, sure I do!" I'm not
attempting to downplay the catastrophic event that killed
thousands of innocent men, women and children; pets and
livestock, and destroyed lives, businesses and property
in Thailand. But think about it for just a few, if you
will. Immediately, the cameras rolled tape broadcasting
the powerful images back to us sitting in our living rooms,
or while we sat in our offices. We sat amazed as we saw
video after video that captured the deadly effects of
the monster wave spreading its deadly grip over a nation
far, far away. What did we do? Here's what we did.
Within hours of the tsunami's deadly strike, the
United States and other countries stood up and began
sending aid. Donations of clothing, food, water, money.
Serious money was sent by the United States as we were
"dogged" by other countries for not being quick enough
to respond, and we were being "stingy." US military
ships loaded with assistance and equipment, plowed
towards southeastern Asia. Our nurses, doctors, counselors,
engineers, and rescue teams, converged on a small, coastal
area on the other side of the world, and began putting
"things" back in order, sacrificing their time away from
their families. Millions and millions of dollars poured
in globally. Huge concerts were organized immediately
by our famous rock and rollers, rubber fundraising
bracelets were sold, and raffles here at my workplace
The good, old US of A. I love my country. I'd gladly
defend her with my life. I have faith in our people,
for the most part. I wouldn't live anywhere else in
the world! If I'm not mistaken, it's even ones
constitutional right to burn "Old Glory." That is
until someone tries it within my arm's reach. I can
certainly invoke my own constitutional right to unleash
a good ol', southern ass whuppin' on someone that chooses
to burn my country's flag. But that's another deal.
So, I pose a few questions. Where the hell is the
returning favor from all the foreign aid we've shelled
out over the years? Where are all of these other countries,
now that our southern neighbors need all the help they
can get? Where are the plastic bracelets selling for
three bucks a pop in the convenient stores and on the
Internet? Where are all the movie stars, the rock stars,
the professional athletes…you know, the ones that were
so quick to volunteer their time and money and names?
Tonight, when you get home, think about a few things.
When you touch your light switch, what happens? When
you just walk into your home that is still standing;
when you reach for that dry toilet paper (yeah, as
simple as that); when you slap a couple of pieces of
bread in the toaster and then reach into that cold
refrigerator for that glass of milk; when you hit
the tap at the sink for a cool, glass of water; when
you reach for that fly-rod and your other gear and it's
still there; when you close your eyes tonight and your
head is on a soft pillow, your doors are secure and
your family is in one piece, and you just know when
you wake up, your job will still be there. All is well...?
'Til next time. ~ Capt. Gary
Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much
of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area.
After moving a little closer to the coast, his
interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still
visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."
He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's
and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little
over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow
water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came
around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary
doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the
waters will ever be present.
Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater
patterns in the early '90's and has participated as
a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers
on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting
and tying instructor and stained glass artist,
creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.