"Please don't forget about us." That's what someone said to me just a little while ago.
I was watching the fireworks explode over the Mississippi River along with several thousand other residents and visitors in New Orleans. I came here to spend my Fourth of July holiday. I usually have to work whenever I'm in this city, so it's been nice to just spend a couple days walking around, eating great food, talking with people.
I didn't get the name of the lady who said, "Please don't forget about us," but I've heard those words from a lot of other people on previous trips to this region. I know people here feel like many in the country have forgotten about them.
Every time I come to New Orleans, I'm struck by the spirit of its people. I know it's a cliche, but it's true. Shopkeepers, school teachers, young and old, people are commited to bringing New Orleans back. A lot of the city is back, but there sure is a lot of work to be done.
We decided to devote the majority of Wednesday's program to the men and women who've been working so hard here. We are calling it "American Heroes: Giving Back to the Gulf," and I think you will be inspired and moved by some of the stories we're covering. Terrible things have happened here, but the situation would be much worse were it not for the incredible generosity of the American people.
We'll show you where the money that has been donated so far has gone. We'll also introduce you to some of the people who are making a difference here every day -- kids who are spending their summer vacations rebuilding houses with Habitat for Humanity, volunteers working at animal shelters, doctors struggling to care for the needs of a battle-scarred city, police struggling to deal with a growing murder rate while rebuilding the force and their own lives.
We'll also be joined by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, who are performing Wednesday night in New Orleans, with all the proceeds of their concert go to their charity, the Neighbor's Keeper Foundation. They've also given a lot of tickets away to volunteers who've been helping New Orleans and the Gulf Coast rebuild. I'll spend time with Faith and Tim tomorrow in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. We'll also broadcast live during their benefit concert.
It may not seem like a big deal, but to a city that is struggling to rebuild, a city that often feels forgotten, Wednesday's concert is a big deal. Like the librarian convention that took place here last weekend, it's an econonic boost to the city, and perhaps just as importantly, a sign of normal life slowly ... very slowly ... returning.