Probably the best known song associated with New Orleans is the one called "When the Saints Go Marching In". In keeping with the spirit of the song, there are many variations and interpretations on both the music and lyrics. Perhaps fittingly, they remain unattributed and keeping with New Orleans reputation and tradition, that's probably for the best.

With all due respect to Kanye West and his recent statement that George Bush doesn't care about black people, here's how Louis Armstrong, the United States Ambassador to the World interpreted them so many years ago. It's a shame he's not alive to see them come true. We could have used his talent, his reason and his outlook on life to help us carry us through these troubled times rather than drive a wedge into an already indescribable situation.

We are traveling in the footsteps
Of those who’ve gone before
But we’ll all be reunited
On a new and sunlit shore

I guess it's hard to retain hope when the situation seems hopeless. When the life you live might not exactly be the one you love but instead have learned to live is suddenly and indescribably turned upside down in ways you can't even begin to fathom. But still, in the back of your mind, you pray to whatever God you think that will listen and hope that the better days that lay on the horizon aren't too far off in the distance.

Oh when the saints go marching in
When the saints go marching in
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

This might be overly optimistic but I think that there are saints among us. I think that maybe their story has been buried by the fact that the government’s response to this catastrophe was woefully lacking. That story is still waiting to be told and there are heroes out there who's story will never see the light of day but still exists in the memory of a good deed to a random stranger.

And when the sun begins to shine
Oh and when that sun begins to shine
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

You can help you know. No matter how bad it seems, things do get better and it'd be nice if we managed to play a small part in it. Donate some money, give some old clothes, say a prayer, do whatever floats your boat. That might not get you a sainthood but you'll certainly feel a little bit better about yourself and maybe, just maybe your generosity won't be lost.

When the moon turns red with blood
Oh when the moon turns red with blood
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

There's something fatalistic about wanting to be on the front lines, about wanting to become part of an event rather than just a spectator. I think those people who volunteer their services, their time, their effort and their hearts probably find the pillow a little bit softer and sleep a little easier to come by than the rest of us.

On that hallelujah day
Oh, on that hallelujah day
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

I don't know if there's a heaven or a hell or even if there is an afterlife at all. Just to be on the safe side, I'd rather cast my lot with the good people of the world. You know, those who give of themselves without looking for votes or for taking credit. Sometimes, it's more revealing about what you leave off your resume than what you include.

Oh when the trumpet sounds the call
l Oh when the trumpet sounds the call
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Each and every one of us is tested at some point in there lives. The people of New Orleans are being tested in ways I can't even begin to imagine. Family, possessions, jobs, a way of life, all gone in the blink of an eye. Is that a "calling" for them to try and get themselves back on their feet or is it just a series of unfortunate circumstances?

I think it's a calling for all of us. The wound is exposed, lets try it heal it rather than cover it up with more band-aids where it can fester and ooze puss. Let's expose ourselves for the good people that we are.

Some say this world of trouble
Is the only one we need
But I’m waiting for that morning
When the new world is revealed

Some people know nothing but trouble in their lives. From sun up to sun down it's a constant struggle to put food on the table and meet the most basic of needs to have any semblance of a decent life. It's hard to smile, it's harder to laugh and the urge to feel like a victim must be overwhelming. After all, all around you are success stories. You seem them on tv and movies are made about them. You wonder when your ship will come in and when you'll dance in the sun.

When the revelation comes
Oh when the revelation comes
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

But then maybe you realize that it doesn't take all that much to make you happy in this world. The smile of your child, the tender caress of your loved one, the feeling that you've done good all go a long way to making the days slide by just a little easier.

When the rich go out and work
Oh, when the rich go out and work
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Most of the people who got trapped in New Orleans aren't exactly what you would call members of the "upper class". For the most part, they were poor and black with little education. They do the jobs that nobody else wants to do and as long nothing tragic happens, little is said about them. They are kept under the covers since their story isn't headlines. Where do they go now, what will they do?

The wealthier amongst us only seem to come out when tragedy strikes. They'll be concerts and pledge drives and pleas for compassion. I don't know if it's an ego thing where they can strut their feathers in public or if it's just the way the news presents them. If only they were more giving in the first place, we'd all be a lot better off.

When the air is pure and clean
Oh when the air is pure and clean
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

For most of the people, the air will be pure and clean again. It might take decades but if we've learned any sort of lesson from this, life will change for the better. It's hard to say that for those who have died but maybe their death's will cause our leaders to take second look at the people that they lead and realize that not all of them wear suits and ties and drive to work.

When we all have food to eat
Oh when we all have food to eat
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

In the days following the disaster, we all became aware of just how woefully prepared we are to deal with these types of situations. Rest assured, fingers will be pointed and blame will be cast in every direction. People in charge will be going into the cover your ass mode and heads will be buried in the sand. We should never forget those that were left behind the in the wake of inefficiency and bureaucracy.

When our leaders learn to cry
Oh when our leaders learn to cry
Oh lord I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Yes, when our leaders stop trying to turn their false tears into our real votes, maybe we'll have finally turned the corner.

That's the number I want to be in.

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