It is a reasonable assumption that most Americans “of a certain age,” which is to say senior citizens, can repeat and translate the Latin motto that since 1782 has been part of the Great Seal of the United States. E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. And it is fitting to note that the motto itself was not proposed by a single individual but was created by three men working together – John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson — who shared a common vision, hope and principles. After that collaboration, it was adopted by Congress.
While it is also certainly realistic to assume that few of us spend much time thinking about that Latin phrase very often these days, more than two and a half centuries later, it is equally as true that the values inculcated in that axiom continue to direct and define who we are as a nation and a people. We might not think about it often. But we act on it, almost reflexively. One need only look back over the news and weather reports of the past few weeks to see our national unity in action.
Tragically at this writing all the damage done by Hurricane Ian has not been assessed, all the loss has not been calculated (if it ever can and will be), all the lives taken or irreparably harmed and changed have not been counted. But what was, is and will be counted on is that in times and circumstances like this one we learn and live and lean on the power of the truth memorialized in the thirteen letters of our national motto. Thirteen letters that define a singular, united character.
Among those institutions and entities that many older Americans residing in the areas devastated by Hurricane Ian regularly relied on prior to the catastrophe to help them live and enjoy healthy lives were senior nutrition programs — congregate meals sites at senior centers and other venues as well as home-delivered meal programs that served the more vulnerable. We know that their physical plants surely were not immune to the wrath of Ian. Their facilities suffered the same consequences as the thousands of other structures either irreparably damaged or entirely destroyed in the hurricane’s path. But that is not the end of those senior nutrition programs’ story. In fact, we are certain the challenge it presented will be a new chapter.
We know from years of support for and involvement with senior nutrition programs that their dedication to the importance of their vital mission, as well as their strong resolve to find new and innovative ways to assist those older individuals who have relied on them in the past, was doubtless left unscathed by the physical destruction. Not only that, as their capacity and resources to serve allows, they most likely will search out additional seniors who will need their services going forward.
Surely, in addition to resources, patience, dedication and resourcefulness, their resurgence will also require time, resolve and external support. We have seen it on the ground already.
E Pluribus UNAM.