By Raimundo Rojas
Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. These innocent-sounding names bring fear, anxiety, and anguish to the hearts of tens of thousands of Floridians. They are the four major hurricanes that slammed, crashed, and thundered their way onto all of Florida's three coasts.
During the summer of 2004, everyone in Florida was affected by these four vicious storms. From the Florida Keys to Jacksonville and from Naples to Pensacola Beach there was destruction, devastation, and darkness.
Floridians healed and mended, not only their bodies and their homes, but also their hearts and minds. For many of us it was a summer we will never forget. Floridians had been beaten and bruised by the forces of nature, but they came back. Many are still rebuilding.
But we knew that there was another storm coming, only this one would come in the fall. Many in the state knew that the next storm wasn't going to come off the coast of Africa and churn across the Atlantic, nor was it coming from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
This storm, they knew, would come from the north. They knew that there was no reprieve. If it overpowered them, unlike the other four, this one would mean annihilation for millions.
Just as they had for the previous four storms, Floridians battened down in early October. Only this time they didn't use plywood and nails, they used pro-life literature and volunteers. They didn't stock up on water and canned foods, they stocked up on prayer. In combating storm Kerry/Edwards, pro-life names, not generators, became the most prized possessions.
When it was all said and done, nearly a million pieces of pro-life literature were delivered, explaining John Kerry's unwavering and unforgivable position on abortion in comparison to President Bush's pro-life record.
What follows are short vignettes from some of the people who made it happen in Florida. They are a testimony to the quiet, unassuming faithfulness of grassroots pro-lifers everywhere.
Jacki D. (Pasco County). Pasco County is in the midwestern part of the state. Port St. Lucie and Dade City are some of the towns in this moderately populated county. In 2000, Pasco County went for Al Gore. But with the lives of so many on the line, Jacki agreed to be the county coordinator for NRL PAC's "lit drop" effort. She found the people to distribute the literature and Pasco went for George Bush.
Bob T. (Brevard County). When Bob was called to ask if he would head the volunteer effort in his county, Bob sounded tired. Bob said that he had minor flooding in his basement and that part of his roof was damaged.
He went on to explain that in the morning an insurance adjuster was coming to estimate the damage on his home. Bob knew that another storm was brewing and said he could distribute 50,000 pieces of literature. And he did.
Caridad M. (Miami-Dade). In "little Havana," where the smell of cigars and Cuban coffee can sometimes be overwhelming, Caridad, or Cacha as she is called by her friends, is a 61-year-old naturalized American citizen. Her rose garden destroyed and her front room flooded by rain, she found a dry spot for the boxes of NRL literature that were sent to her. She and a group of other seniors went out on Sunday, October 31 and Monday, November 1. Together they distributed nearly 25,000 pieces of bilingual literature in the heart of Miami.
Marjorie H. (Clay County). A mother of five, Marjorie better than most knew the consequences of being blown away by this oncoming storm. This is what Marjorie had to say.
"Voting and motivating others to vote for George W. Bush added to the passion and urgency of what we were doing," she said. "In all the years of doing lit drops this year's efforts were the most joyful. Volunteers were grateful that they had a way to thank the President for his leadership." Marjorie was responsible for the distribution of tens of thousands of pieces of pro-life literature.
Bob H (Okaloosa County). Bob lives near the Ft. Walton Beach area in the Panhandle of the state of Florida. This was one of the areas most heavily damaged by the hurricanes, save for Charlotte County in the southwest part of the state. NRLC coordinators were hesitant to call there because we knew what they were facing. But Bob, as usual, put it all in perspective:
"Some of our homes are total losses, the storm surge has destroyed the foundation of our church and it will have to be razed and a new one built," he said. "But they are still performing abortions in Pensacola, so please, send me the literature."
There were other unsung heroes as well: Alice and her six kids who distributed 2,000 pieces in the Florida Keys; Lynda Bell who covered south Dade County; Tawana A. who coordinated the distribution of nearly 60,000 pieces in Broward County: John R who took on West Palm Beach; Carole G. coordinated much of north central Florida and the Panhandle. The list of volunteers in Florida goes on and on. We have so many of them to thank.
The storm came. The early bands could be felt first in the Palm Beach area as Michael Moore and his crews filmed at many precincts in the hopes of finding some phantom voting irregularity. Then stronger gusts were felt as hordes of pro-abortion volunteers from EMILY's List swept into the state.
As the election neared, the eye of the political storm was over Florida. On Election Day, the results of early exit polls were leaked all over the Internet and radio, claiming the state was in the Kerry column. Storm-weary Floridians, not dismayed by the news nor easily put off, went to the polls in record numbers.
By 8 p.m. the storm's worst fury had passed. Now was the time for quiet reckoning.
As precinct after precinct reported its numbers, the wonderful news could be seen on television screens all over America. The pro-life efforts of thousands of Floridians paid off for the cause of unborn children.
With tenacity and faithfulness, they had courageously fought against the winds and won. Much to the never-ending chagrin of storm Kerry/Edwards, Florida went into the Bush column, helping, once again, to elect a pro-life President.
One volunteer, who lives in the Panhandle and too humble to let us use her name, said this. "We went through Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, and we survived. Then Kerry/Edwards came at us and we beat them back as well. With all due respect to the President and his friends in Texas, the slogan should really say Don't Mess with Florida."
And we won't.