Saturday, March 20, 2010

Charity Hospital

Charity Hospital was the New Orleans equivalent of Boston Medical Center.   It was closed after Hurricane Katrina and it isn't scheduled to be reopened.  Imagine if BMC were erased from Boston's health care network.

I took the Canal Street street car to the cemeteries this morning.  The Canal Street line splits at Carrolton Avenue, half the cars go to City Park and the art museum, the other half go to the above ground necropolises at the far side of town.  I stopped into the Charity Hospital Cemetery which was founded in 1848 as a potter's field.  There aren't any marked graves in this cemetery.

There is, however, a memorial that is the final resting place for the unidentified and unclaimed remains of those who perished during Katrina.  There are six mausoleums, unmarked with black granite facades arranged in a pattern that mirrors the shape of the storm.

The commemorative narrative inscribed on a block of granite concludes, "Let their souls join in an eternal chorus, singing with the full might of the indomitable spirit of New Orleans."

Life goes on in New Orleans.  Though many neighborhoods still bear scars from the brunt of the flood, life goes on as normal.  New Orleans is both a queen among American cities and a dowager.  She has seen better days and worse ones too.  Better days are ahead of today that will outweigh the worse ones that will inevitably accompany them.

The French Quarter is the vibrant heart of this regal city and that is what the tourists pay to see.  New Orleans is a skein of many threads though.  It is a body with many arteries and resilient plexuses.  The people who live here haven't given up hope or human kindness.  They haven't given up on charity.

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