The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Pass Christian debris removal was 97 percent complete. So on this Memorial Day, Pass Christian hosted a spirit of partnership celebration, to thank the Corps and FEMA for putting the city on the road to recovery.
A Pass Christian singer spiced up the ceremony with a song about Katrina. "We are strong," he sang. Strong and determined, city leaders later said, to put a brave face on a horrific hurricane. "We know the future is going to be hard," Mayor Pro Tem Chipper McDermott said. "But the future is going to be bright for Pass Christian."
The song's next refrain went like this. "We'll rebuild. We will heal to start new and better lives."
Some of Pass Christian's healing, yet still storm weary neighbors gathered at War Memorial Park. They sat next to Task Force Hope members -- people who brought hope during the city's darkest days. John Nocera was part of the disaster response team. "You have been able to rise above the circumstances and move forward with rebuilding with a passion for success," he told the crowd.
Success. In Pass Christian, success meant getting the state and the federal government to haul off 1.4 million cubic yards of hurricane debris. It meant turning sacrifice and hardship into a rallying cry that united this tiny community and the clean up crews it hired.
Dr. John Calhoun came to the city to help it rebuild. "What was gone in an instant is going to take weeks, maybe months, maybe years to rebuild. But together we're going to do it," he said.
On this Memorial Day, Pass Christian hosted a spirit of partnership celebration. A chaplain read this prayer. "Thank you for the men and women who have worked so diligently to restore this place." It was the city's way to honor the military, FEMA, the Corps of Engineers, and the volunteers who left their families to help Pass Christian families. "The work has been around the clock, but the workers never seem to tire," Nocera proudly said. "In short, it's been a remarkable, remarkable achievement."
The remarkable achievement captured in the final stanza of this song. "The hurt will pass. The pain won't last. We're building day by day. We are strong. We are strong. We are strong."