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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

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THE BIG EASY'S BLUNT BUMPERS

I spend quite a bit of time driving the streets of New Orleans and its surrounding parishes. It gives me a chance to look for signs and symbols of everyone's state of mind. While I typically note the looks on their faces, how many Saints jerseys I see, and even whether they're keeping their lawns up (whether in front of their gutted home or FEMA trailer), lately I've been paying closer attention to the bumper stickers on their cars. People may intend to use them as reflections of their individuality, but in fact those stickers tell you more about their common beliefs. A lot of them are predictably sports-related: "GO LSU TIGERS," "GO HORNETS," "GEAUX SAINTS."

But others are different. Let's start with "FAITH." What started out as a message years ago to fans to have faith in the once-beleagured Saints, now seems to have a new life as a message about people's belief in their now-beleagured city. There are other stickers that existed before the storm but have been embraced anew. Proud When I first arrived here, I began to notice these: "NEW ORLEANS, PROUD TO CALL IT HOME." I'm told by folks that the slogan was created a few years back by some group looking to boost New Orleans' self-image. But a lot of those stickers seem to lack the nicks, dents and tears that a few years of driving and a major hurricane would inflict on them. Residents are buying them again, eager to renew their commitment to the city, in writing.

That original sticker has given way to some new variations on the theme. In a city that prides itself on its penchant for partying, someone apparently came up with this version: NEW ORLEANS, PROUD TO CRAWL HOME." You tend to see those on cars driven by young people around the local universities. But New Orleanians are nothing but self-deprecating. Proud_to_swim So it was just a matter of time that post-storm, this version starting appearing on cars and trucks" "NEW ORLEANS: PROUD TO SWIM HOME." That grim humor is shared by alot of folks, it seems. Another incarnation I've seen: "PROUD TO REBUILD HOME AND STILL PROUD TO CALL IT HOME." It's a postive sign that folks aren't waiting for the chamber of commerce to sum up their feelings about the city.

Another popular sticker I see says "ERACISM" (Erase Racism). I'm told it too predated the storm by more than a decade. A quick Internet search revealed that Eracism is the slogan of the group ERACE, which was formed in New Orleans in 1993 following a series of articles in The Times-Picayune, "Together Apart/The Myth of Race." There's something to be said for a city that's willing to admit its problems, in black and white, right there on bumper stickers for all the world to see.

Levees_not_warStickers created after the storm tend to be pointedly political. For awhile, vehicles sported these: "HOLD THE CORPS ACCOUNTABLE" or "FEMA HAPPENS" or even this: "FEMA WHERE Y'AT?" But the anger at  a particular government agency has morphed into a general feeling of frustration that perceived government neglect is bigger than any one bureaucracy. That's reflected in this play off the old 60s summer of love slogan.  The updated New Orleans' version? "MAKE LEVEES, NOT WAR."

Thousands more messages dot back windows, bumpers and tailgates around here. Most are simple in their sentiments. "I LOVE NOLA" or a simple Fleur De Lis symbol. One of the most poignant I saw this week. A couple who live in New Orleans East have a specially printed sticker on their vehicle that reads "THANKS AMERICA, MARY AND JOSEPH PEREZ, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA." They attached it to their car when they evacuated following the storm. It was their way of telling folks they were grateful for the help. Mary and Joseph are spending Christmas in a FEMA trailer back in New Orleans (that's another story), but despite the fact they're home, they feel compelled to keep displaying that sticker.

Read more from NBC's Gulf Coast recovery files, Steve Majors

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COMMENTS

We are lucky to live in a land where help arrives in a disaster! Maybe a lot of people didn't get what they wanted, or needed, but still...there were people there to help. Donations poured in like the water did. Maybe everyone going back should sign a waiver...agreeing to whatever help is availble. what about NEXT year, and the year after that? Isn't ANYONE grateful for the help they DID receive?? It doesn't sound like it!

No government is better than the people that run it. A very big part of the population that was relocated, or just left, dont care what happens to the city. Those that stay to rebuild and start again are at least brave enough to face the music. After all, it could happen again! I have been to NOrleans several times, more than any other place Ive traveled to. It was a very nice City, and interesting too. What comes out of the ashes will be something quite different. I hope it remembers where it came from, and what its been through. Good Luck !!! & God Speed.

New Orleans "60 years of Democrat corruption laid bare"

I can't believe this article didn't mention my favorite bumper sticker: "New Orleans - We put the FUN in funeral." I need one of those, almost as badly as I need George W. Bush and the rest of our elected officials to give a hoot about the recovery process.

Steve - Excellent article. Thanks!
Yes, we're still a mess in a lot of ways, but we still have the best food in the world, a lot of the best music, and Katrina didn't wash away our sense of humor nor our ability to throw a phemonenal party. Give yourselves a wonderful Christmas present: book your flights and hotels for Mardi Gras (February 20th) and JazzFest (April 27th - May 6th) now. You'll be glad you did! See y'all on the parade route.

Happy holidays and thanks for yet another wonderful, thought-provoking post! I enjoyed reading about the bumper stickers--and I've read a lot that I "second" by people who've posted ahead of me--they'll be a "tough act to follow."

It's good news that John Edwards is planning to announce his candidacy from the Lower 9th in order to publicize the fact that serious inequality still exists in America no matter how hard those in power have been trying to sweep it under the rug. It also would be a good idea for Barack Obama to visit New Orleans and call attention to the fact that she still needs a lot of help rebuilding. But Obama needs to do this quickly--it would be just New Orleans' luck to have the media fall prey to "Obama fatigue" and pass up covering his trip there.

It would be even better if, while in New Orleans, Obama not only threw his hat in the ring but also provided a concrete plan to get New Orleans and the rest of the storm zone up and running. Here's but one area with which New Orleans desperately needs help: her water, sewerage, and drainage systems. According to the Times-Picayune, it will take 25 years and $5.7 billion to fix them. The Sewerage and Water Board does not know how it will pay for much of the repairs. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Although President Bush visited the storm zone several times after Katrina, as far as I know he has no interest in visiting New Orleans again in the foreseeable future. He only wants to go where he can stage pretty photo-ops that will reflect positively on his Administration, help the GOP win the Presidency and Congress in 2008, and provide him with a good "legacy"--and New Orleans is not such a place.

Bush's "legacy" regarding New Orleans has been shameful. It started when Katrina hit and Bush, who had been vacationing in Crawford, Texas, from which it would have been a quick, easy trip to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, instead flew out to California where he strummed some show-biz buddy's guitar. It took him over a week just to find the time to fly over and look down on the devastated area.

Then he made his Jackson Square speech where he promised America would "do what it takes" and "stay as long as it takes" to rebuild New Orleans. But these turned out to be empty promises, and New Orleans and the rest of the storm zone soon went on the back burner. In Bush's State of the Union message, he said nothing about New Orleans until it was close to the end, and said nothing about upgrading her levees, coastal restoration, or seeing that New Orleans, the rest of Louisiana's storm-ravaged parishes, and Mississippi's Gulf Coast be rebuilt. As for what has happened since then, to keep a long story short, I'll just say the inattention continues, with the clueless President Bush claiming that $110 billion (part of which went towards measures such as FEMA trailers, the rest is tied up in red tape) should be enough to rebuild New Orleans and the rest of the storm zone.

So it is to be hoped that, starting with John Edwards' opening his candidacy in New Orleans, the Democrats will consistently call attention to the urgent need to rebuild that fabulous city with her distinctive culture. It's great to hear of signs of recovery such as the re-opening of part of the St. Charles streetcar line--but when they occur against a backdrop of such warning signs as the "brain drain" of young professionals out of New Orleans due to lack of business, I'm still more than a little worried. I'm afraid that should Bush Administration neglect be allowed to continue, someday in the future we'll be hearing of a new bumper sticker saying, "Bush Lied--A City Died."

Seasons greetings and thanks to all of the people who have helped our city in thoughts and deeds. To the bumbling, self-serving incompetents at every level of government, thanks for nothing and I hope Santa brings you a bag of rocks to go with those in your heads.

I blog about New Orleans and the sorry state it's STILL in, 16 months later, as often as I can.

Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) met with Women of the Storm this year and he issued a statement on the anniversary of the tragic storm's destruction:

"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and victims of this horrible catastrophe. Sadly, even twelve months later, the road ahead remains daunting.

"When I toured the Gulf CoastI saw first-hand the challenges of recovery, but was heartened to see the very best of the American spirit in action.

"Rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is, and will continue to be, a tough haul, but Americans are standing together and rising to the occasion.

“A year ago today, we saw unprecedented and shocking devastation on our own shores. We should have been prepared for any disaster, natural or man-made, and we weren’t.

"We needed to have the resources and infrastructure in place to protect our citizens when they are in danger, and we didn’t.

"The flood waters of Katrina were a wake up call to America, and one year later the question is whether or not we were listening. We cannot let time erase the memory of the commitment we made to the people of the Gulf Coast. ”

Thank you, Steve, for keeping a watchful eye on New Orleans. And I'll continue to blog about the only New Orleans story that matters, the survivors of Katrina, on Sen. Biden's website, www.UniteOurStates.com.

May you and your family be blessed with health and happiness in the New Year, and may our prayers and action efforts be put before the people of New Orleans.

I saw every one of those bumper stickers way back in early January '06 after my daughter and I and two friends delivered donated emergency vehicles and supplies to a tiny town in Mississppi. People in NOLA must have slapped them on soon after Katrina in definace of all they were going through. Just like all of the flags that appeared in the NY metro and surrounding areas after 9/11. New Orleans was pretty empty just after last Christmas with very quiet streets. Restaurants and stores were struggling to reopen in the French Quarter where we stayed and few had customers. We were greeted with enormous warmth and gratitude everywhere we went, it was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Everyone had a Katrina story and wanted to share it, it was a fascinating time to be in New Orleans.

The damage was beyond anything we had seen in the media. Driving around a newly "third world" New Orleans on our own and speaking with people we met there who came from all walks of lifes and racial backgrounds left us sobered, deeply affected and beyond grateful for what we had at home.

Returning in April with my son to help gut buildings, I found the city to be more populated but little else had changed. Street lights outside of the French Quarter and financial centers still did not work, passing through a five way intersection was always a nerve-testing experience, streets signs were still missing and of course, the sight of mile after mile after mile of destroyed housing was surreal. According to friends who live there that is the way it has remained.

New Orleans sorry condition is a national disgrace and embarassment. More of our congessmen and senators need to get themselves down there to see it first hand; after all, its not Iraq. It's a major US City which desperately needs their help. New Orleans activists groups like the "Women of the Storm" keep going to Washington to beg them to visit. To simply make an easy daytrip, but few have bothered. What are we paying these lawmakers for?

I love it: Make LEVEES NOT WAR! Perfectly stated!

Happy holidays Steve, and thanks for all your good work.

A good friend of mine lives in Metairie and while visiting him during Jazzfest, we went down to the Ninth Ward. He called it the "Disaster Tour." Being from the Midwest I have personally witnessed the destruction of tornandoes, but I have never seen anything like this in my life. Whatever was shown on TV, this was much worse. But in spite of the destruction, the people still held on to that particular N'Awlinz charm.

While walking to Jazzfest I saw banners hanging from houses that siad "Recover, Rebuild, Rebirth." We went to the French Quarter, found a small shop selling them and purchased one. Although I don;t live in New Orleans, I proudly display in my screened lanai facing the golf course for all to see.

Finally, while leaving to fly home, after going through security, the TSA worker thanked me for visiting and asked me to return. I responded that I would see them next year and you can count on it.

The strength of these people in the face of what I would call and overwhelming situation is inspiring.

Keep up the reporting on these people, they deserve our respect and assistance.

Steve,
Thanks very much for keeping us up with the heartbeat of New Orleans. Following a week long trip to one of Alabama's gulf coast towns a couple of months ago, we drove along the coast to New Orleans. There are no photos or words to describe what overcame the adults in our vehicle as we entered the Ninth Ward. Sobbing and more. Yet your accounts vividly provide assurance things are changing...hard to believe from one Lady who found life in the French Quarter seemed hardly disrupted. Happy Holidays.

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