We Are Not Going Around: A Tribute To Jock Menzies (And You)
August is always a bittersweet month at ALAN, because we mark two major anniversaries –the untimely death of our founding president, Jock Menzies and the landfall of Hurricane Katrina.
And this year, it feels especially so, because 2020 marks 15 years since ALAN was born in the aftermath of Katrina.
I’ve been reflecting on both of these milestones this week – and trying to figure out what they have to teach us during a year that has been one of the hardest and busiest in ALAN’s history (thanks to COVID-19) and as we look ahead at the probability of a major hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast.
What comes to me is the following.
At Jock’s funeral seven years ago, his brother Mike, who has since also sadly passed away, told the story of a cross-country flight that he and Jock took together. They traveled from the East Coast in a small twin-engine airplane with Mike as pilot and Jock as co-pilot and navigator. (I find this infinitely amusing, as almost every time Jock and I traveled together we somehow managed to get lost or otherwise disoriented).
Anyway, on this flight, their itinerary had them stopping for the day in Oklahoma City.
Typical of the late afternoons in that area, thunderstorms had formed and the pair was having a difficult time landing. The strong winds and weather had them a bit nervous, and Mike, as pilot, was ready to call off the stop and head on to clearer skies. However the two agreed to at least try to land as planned.
As they made the approach and were being bumped around, the control tower indicated that they should abort the landing, a maneuver often referred to as a “go-around.”
Jock had obviously had his fill of the rough passage and exclaimed, “WE ARE NOT GOING AROUND!” And guess what? They didn’t. Because get this: He knew that to get safely on the ground, sometimes you have to go through turbulence.
I adopted Jock’s words as a personal mantra following his death, and all these years later, they still ring true, especially for ALAN.
Following his death, we could have aborted our mission – called it off and simply walked away. And no one would have blamed us, because after all, we’d just lost our leader and co-founder.
Instead, we decided to go through the storm both figuratively and literally. And that’s what we’ve continued to do each and every day since, one pandemic, hurricane, tornado and environmental disaster at a time.
Like Mike and Jock as they successfully navigated their rough landing, we have chosen not to go around but to continue moving forward, even though it hasn’t always been easy. And just as they ultimately relied on the steady voice of the control tower to guide them to safety, we’ve been fortunate to have the support of partners, volunteers, and donors like you to help us through the toughest parts. In fact, we couldn’t have done it without you.
Thank you, as always, for guiding us safely through the storms, and thank you for allowing me to serve as your captain.