From a Proud Alabama Alum, Thank You

Allen SmithContributor IMay 3, 2011

From an alumni of the University of Alabama, I’m sure I can speak for the vast majority of us, that the outpouring of support has been much appreciated from around the nation.  I thank you, and I’m sure they do as well.  People coming from around the country to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on will go a long way for Tuscaloosa’s recovery.

I first arrived in Alabama in May of 2000, my Dad working for Wal-Mart and being transferred up and down the east coast, has allowed me to sample some of the best things in this country.  I consider myself to be lucky to have had such an experience having lived in four other states (Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and New Jersey).

However, the one thing that has been missing was a true place to call “home.”  Knowing that arriving in Alabama, that this was probably the last big move I would make before college, I began looking at various institutions.  I made a commitment to myself when I was younger that I wanted to go to a good school, that was big in athletics.  

After visiting the campus a couple of times, I chose Alabama based on comfort.  Even though I couldn’t tell you who Bear Bryant was.  I can now but realize that I was more of an NFL guy back then, but I quickly took to the place like a duck takes to water.  Soaking in every bit of the tradition and beauty of the campus.

After going through some transition period to becoming an Alabama fan, it finally happened, the year 2005, where the magic (for a brief moment) was shown.  I saw what truly can happen when the football team was relevant. 

The atmosphere changed, the feeling changed, I changed.  I was now an Alabama fan.  After branching out of campus and down the intersection of McFarland Blvd. and 15th Street, even down to Skyland Blvd. for my necessary Wal-Mart runs, I finally had what I had been searching for, home.

So you can imagine the dismay I felt while I watched live on TV (the power never went out in my area) that monstrous tornado gorging on whatever was in its path, and then it passes right by Bryant-Denny Stadium, as if it said, “I can if I want to.” 

I wasn’t horrified because it would tear down a great venue for football, but behind the stadium lies a graveyard, behind the graveyard lies 15th Street where I would head for my Domino’s, McDonald’s, gas and in later years, Midtown Village.

Thank God, I’ve never been involved in a tornado personally, but for the first time, a place that I knew, I mean really knew, was being destroyed right before my eyes.  I couldn’t say anything, I was glued to the television and speechless.

But as I sit hear thinking about my memories that have been damaged, my heart breaks for those on further down the road. 

Places like Alberta and Cottondale, on the outskirts of Tuscaloosa.  Then farther east into the northern areas of Birmingham, such as Pleasant Grove and Pratt City, into Cullman and beyond.  I’m told the tornado continued all the way to the South Carolina/Georgia border.  

These places were nearly eradicated and as much as I appreciate everyone trying to send well wishes to Tuscaloosa, those people need yours and my prayers as well.  As they are still trying to recollect themselves and begin a long journey towards recovery.

This is usually the time where I put out my predictions for the upcoming season (as far as SEC goes).  But that time will come, just like it will for the football team to take the field in September against Kent State.  But for now, all I can offer is prayers, thoughts and hope for a city that I have come to hold dear, my alma mater, my home.