New Orleanian Abroad


by Sam Winston

This post was originally published Tuesday, October 9th. A new video clip has been added.

The USA Today recently put out the top 25 news stories/headlines from the last quarter century. The fall of Communism as symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall was number one. Hurricane Katrina was number four.

"Our final Top 25 list features the biggest news stories of the past quarter-century. They're the ones that generated the largest headlines, the greatest change, the most vivid memories, the most immediate impact."

Agreeing or disagreeing with the list aside, where Katrina will finally settle in history is an interesting discussion. While living in New Orleans, the K word and all of its repercussions always felt like the only thing that mattered. Two months of living in Hamburg, Germany and the USA Today's list feels biased towards more recent events.

I experienced how this can happen the other night searching for my next article at international conference here in Hamburg. Instead of a breaking story on the Jewish revival in present day Germany after WWII, I got a two hour lecture about whether or not Jews in Hamburg preferred cremation as opposed to other Jewish communities in Germany during certain time periods. Translation: The issue had already been talked to death.

For New Orleans, its place in history is probably not all that important compared to what that translates to in everyday life (Forget about history, just give us some damn levees that work!) Yet, self-aggrandizing or not, number one, number four, or number 41, New Orleanians are still aware that "history" is palpable in the city right now. Just as they have been since August 29th, 2005. That's one of my favorite parts about things here in Germany. The history isn't static yet like much of Europe. You can still go touch a piece of the Berlin Wall, walk down the street and see where two Jews used to live , or stroll into a bank building that was completely destroyed and rebuilt during "the War."


Check out this clip of a high ranking West German politician telling the crowds of East German protesters that they can finally cross the border into West Germany. The few words spoken are in German, but all you need to listen for is the raucous of joy and relief from the crowd. Will New Orleans ever have such a definitive moment of triumph?

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