Bill Clinton: 'Celebrate tonight, New Orleans'
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“New Orleans is a place that has made a reputation for its interesting differences,” Clinton told listeners at the Smoothie King Center during a 10th anniversary commemoration ceremony.
 
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“Our basic humanity is way more important than our interesting differences,” he said.
 
“You have got a lot to celebrate, but that celebration must be leavened by rededication,” Clinton added. “Celebrate tonight, New Orleans. You’ve earned it.”
 
 
“You all know that the word ‘community’ contains the word ‘unity,’” she told listeners. “This community would not be broken. Your heritage runs deep.
 
“Thank you for your spirit of resilience,” Pelosi continued. “Thank you for being an inspiration to America.
 
“We will see that Louisiana has what it needs to succeed.” 
 
Clinton insisted that the Hurricane Katrina disaster had helped America rediscover old truths about its national identity.
 
“They saw how much you were hurting and how brave you were,” he said of Americans witnessing tragedy unfold after the storm struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. 
 
“It is the nature of how we feel and the history of our country that it is always our job to form a more perfect union,” Clinton added.
 
The 42nd president also said New Orleans has always occupied a special place in his heart, given his love of jazz music and the time he has spent there.
 
“Lord only knows how many miles I have run through the French Quarter,” Clinton said of the city’s famous cultural district. “Nothing sounds like the French Quarter. When I was president, I came here 10 times.”
 
Clinton recalled visiting the struggling community after Hurricane Katrina had wreaked havoc there alongside his wife Hillary Clinton and now-president Obama.
 
“I could tell how moved then-Sen. Obama was and how overwhelmed Hillary was,” Clinton said.
 
“On and on and on, I have seen this city in every state of repair and disrepair that has existed for more than 50 years,” he added. “The people who died left behind memories and loved ones and legacies that deserve to be fully redeemed by erasing the lines that divide us.”
 
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), meanwhile, praised his city for displaying immense resilience as it recovers from the crisis.
 
“Nobody said we could come back from a tragedy of such epic proportions,” he said before Clinton’s speech.
 
“And yet, here we are, still standing,” Landrieu said. “We found a way to beat the odds, come hell or high water.
 
“The world has lifted us up, the nation lifted us up,” he added. “This is a city with a grateful heart.”
 
Americans have refocused their attention on New Orleans this week in light of the 10th anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
 
Both President Obama and former President George W. Bush visited the Big Easy earlier this week, paying their respects before Clinton’s stop.
 
Hurricane Katrina is the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. The massive storm killed at least 1,245 people in its initial landfall and related flooding and cost approximately $108 billion.

- Updated at 9:04 p.m.