Like many of you, I spent a good portion of the morning watching television coverage and listening to radio updates regarding the tragic events that began in Japan as Americans slept comfortably in their beds Friday morning.
In Japan, it was mid-afternoon when an 8.9 magnitude earthquake disrupted what would have been an ordinary day in most respects for the people going about their business half a world away.
As a native Californian, I've experienced my share of earthquakes. I felt the ground move in Southern California while half a state away in Candlestick Park, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's prepared to meet in a "Battle of the Bay" World Series. Instead, the stadium was evacuated and the world watched as rescue attempts were made to free people from collapsed commuter highway bridges.
I felt the ground move and watched in horror as footage caught a motorcycle officer drive off the end of a collapsed bridge to his death in Southern California.
I held my eldest son under my arm and stood in the doorway of our condominium as the floors shook, personal effects fell to the floor and cracks spidered up the wall.
I was even knocked off a wobbly stool once while cleaning pool filters in my backyard as a kid.
But I've never experienced anything like the poor citizens of Japan endured when the ground moved beneath them Friday morning our time.
The longest I've ever felt an earthquake, maybe a minute, minute and one-half tops. Reports said this monster quake lasted four minutes.
Credit the engineers who put the structure into the buildings, subways and infrastructure around Japan. It took the beating and suffered minimal damage based on the intense force leveled against it. But the shaking was only the beginning. It was the tsunami - the follow up to the quake - that did the real damage.
Washing ashore, the wave coming at a hurried pace, was reported at 13-feet high and took with it everything in its way. Boats, vehicles, homes, apparently even a train that as I'm writing this has yet to be found. The lives lost are expected to be in the hundreds if not higher.
Then the reports about potential hazards from a nuclear plant near the epicenter of the quake. The cooling unit quit functioning and that's not a good thing.
So, as the tales of tragedy continued to compile throughout the day, I began wondering how long it would be before Americans would begin to react. My answer came quickly. Relief efforts were immediately under way. When reports of the nuclear plant cooling problem came to light, America flew coolant in to try and help abate the danger that resulted in the evacuation of the area.
Taking a cue from the brave men and women who fight fires in our country, while everybody is running the opposite way, the Americans charge in to face the danger head on.
And, we will be there with food and financing, and even our own blood if necessary, to do what we can for our brothers across the planet. Why? Cuz that's how we roll. It's what's expected of us.
I don't say that to boast, although there's nothing wrong with demonstrating one's pride in this country, but I do say it to make a point. Around the world, America is regarded as a bad place - never mind the fact people are lying and cheating to come to our shores - and we're often painted as the villain. Despite that fact, we're always the first ones to step up and offer assistance, even to those we might consider our enemies, in the name of humanity.
We do it because we can. We do it because we're Americans.
Say a prayer for the people affected directly and indirectly from the events on Friday. The people in Japan, the people in Hawaii and anywhere else impacted can use them right now. And next time you think your day isn't going just right, look around you, remember this day, and thank God for all the blessings in your life.