August 2007 Editorial Winner


Please Restrain These Rains!
By Wayne Trotter, The Tecumseh Countywide News


By instinct and training, most Oklahomans are tough, practical people. They know that when trouble comes calling, it's mostly up to individuals to deal with the consequences themselves. Sure, it may be that some government somewhere can grease the skids or provide a little temporary assistance, but for the most part, they know where the responsibility falls. Oklahomans roll up their sleeves and get to work. It's our tradition and our standard. We're all proud of that.
But how many times can you do that? And how many times should you have to?
From a meteorological standpoint, the events of the past weekend were remarkable. Almost a thousand miles and several days after leaving the Gulf of Mexico near Corpus Christi, former tropical storm Erin drew fresh sustenance from the soaked, overheated plains and rejuvenated itself in the middle of the night. Then it ravaged the state's most heavily populated area with a vigor and strength it had failed to previously display. It dumped almost 10 inches of rain on Pottawatomie County and set floodwaters raging anew in some of the same neighborhoods that previously had been deluged and were just beginning to dry out.
In some places people who had comfortably lived high and dry for decades found themselves under water for the second time in as many months. What a shame!
What are those people doing this week? For the most part, they're retracing their own steps, cleaning up, drying out, checking with their insurance agents if appropriate and seeking aid and assistance also if appropriate. These are Oklahomans and they're rolling up their sleeves.
Those who may be discouraged or otherwise feel a need for inspiration - and some must - might want to recall the story of Gen. George S. Patton and the Third Army prayer. The following is a greatly condensed version of an article penned by Msgr. James H. O'Neill, author of the famous prayer composed at the general's request in December 1944. At the time, American and German forces were locked in the Battle of the Bulge and disaster for our side loomed at Bastogne, all because of lousy rainy weather that was keeping allied planes on the ground and Third Reich tanks on the move.
Gen. Patton ordered the prayer and Chaplain O'Neill wrote it and an accompanying Christmas message. The commanding general approved both and ordered 250,000 copies printed and distributed to the men of the Third Army, from privates to generals, all of whom were asked to deliver it. The copies were produced overnight. This was the prayer:
"Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations."
After the war was over and Patton was gone, Msgr. O'Neill recalled the outcome in a published article:
"As Gen. Patton rushed his divisions north from the Saar Valley to the relief of the beleaguered Bastogne, the prayer was answered. On Dec. 20 - to the consternation of the Germans and the delight of the American forecasters who were equally surprised at the turnabout - the rains and the fogs ceased. For the better part of a week came bright clear skies and perfect flying weather. Our planes came over by tens, hundreds and thousands. They knocked out hundreds of tanks, killed thousands of enemy troops in the Bastogne salient . . . Gen. Patton prayed for fair weather for battle. He got it."
We don't need to do battle in Oklahoma, at least not in that sense, but we do badly need fair weather. Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend.