By Dr. Elaine Ducharme

The first attributed use of this phrase in modern times is to Founding Father John Dickinson in his pre-Revolutionary War song “The Liberty Song”, first published in the Boston Gazette in July 1768. In the song Dickinson wrote: “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”
Kentucky entered the Union on June 1, 1792. A little over six months later, on December 20, 1792, the first Kentucky General Assembly adopted the
official seal of the Commonwealth, including the state motto, United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

As I write this blog I am deeply saddened by all the loss that our fellow Americans have experienced in Texas. The devastation is overwhelming and it certainly will take years for all of the victims of Hurricane Harvey to recover. As the death toll rises the grief will remain intense.There will be numerous stages of recovery. Similar to any traumatic event there is the initial trauma surrounding the event. Immediate needs for survival must be addressed. As people are moving back to their homes they are now facing the significant and overwhelming losses of their homes and personal belongings. Health hazards must be dealt with even when homes remain standing, people have to figure out how to get rid of the mold that may have developed throughout their homes, making them unlivable. Many have no flood insurance and will have to rely on FEMA to rebuild.
The emotional impact of this kind of devastation is almost unimaginable.

And yet, in spite of all this, we are witnessing the best of the best in this country. Long lines have actually formed as people volunteer to help. I was brought to tears as I watched several men risk their lives to wade through flood waters to save a terrified horse. I saw a white volunteer hugging and praying with a black victim. Red Cross volunteers continue to arrive in Texas to help provide food, shelter and support. The National Guard, police, firemen and government officials are all working together. I have seen no reports of anyone asking someone’s political affiliation before helping someone or being helped. It just doesn’t matter. What matters is solving the problems at hand. Clearly, the amazing people of Texas and the first responders get this. They understand the statement United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

So many of us have been frustrated and even disgusted by the political division of this country. In the end, we are all humans with so much more in common than different. As I have watched the events in Texas I sometimes think that God recognized we were so out of control he had to teach us a lesson. Sending a storm with flooding of epic proportions has forced us to try to get back on track…to help each other…to unite for the common good. We will have to continue working together to help people re- cover from Harvey. Our resilience will be tested. Some will seem to bounce back relatively quickly while others struggle more. Many will become fearful, have nightmares or anxiety when they hear of an approaching storm or even try to go to sleep. But,we are amazingly resilient people, especially when we work together and know we are not alone. That is the key.

I am a volunteer for the Red Cross. Although I can’t deploy right now many of my colleagues have. They are living in very difficult conditions and working long hours. Many psychologists across this nation are waiting to see how we can provide support remotely to individuals and families as they struggle to recover.

As we all send thoughts, prayers and donations to the people of Texas. I hope we can be brought back to our senses… brought back to the basic recognition and true understanding that we must stand united or else we will fall. I believe the people of Texas are showing us that being divided is not an option if we want to solve our problems.


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