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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

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WAVELAND, Miss. — It's such a mess down here that the cleanup and recovery effort is a massive military operation. Hundreds of Army engineers coordinating the federal response are scouring the region, led by Col. Anthony P. Vesay, commander of the Vicksburg Division of the Army Corps of Engineers. He's head of Task Force Hope, pooling all of the official resources from the state, the federal government and even several foreign countries.

On Friday, though, Vesay and his troops stepped back — for just a moment — to think about their colleagues fighting overseas and those who fought before them. On the beach at the Waveland War Memorial, they joined American Legion Post 77, scores of red-shirted Army Corps workers, other workers and dozens of local residents to mark Veterans Day.

The memorial was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but it was rebuilt by the Legion, volunteers from the Army Corps, the Mississippi National Guard and local residents. Friday was the first time the combined flags of the armed services have been raised since the storm.

For many of the 200 or so who showed up, it also was the first time neighbor had seen neighbor since August, Mayor Tommy Longo said. But his thoughts, like those of the others, were for the moment focused thousands of miles away, with U.S. forces in Iraq.

"I ask you to keep a thought for those young soldiers and their families," Longo said.

As the crowd dispersed for lunch, Vesay stopped to chat with us for a moment. Earlier, he'd promised the crowd, "We will rebuild this great state and this coast." But he gave us an idea just how monumental a task that will be. The Corps doesn't expect to have picked up all the debris before the end of next summer, he said; disposing of it will take another year. That would put Waveland and Bay St. Louis in the middle of 2007 before the cleanup's done.

There's no way to estimate how many more years it will take to rebuild. Vesay said he was listening to a radio report as he drove in for the first time a day or two after the storm passed. The radio reporter, he said, told listeners: "I've just returned from the coast, and it looks like Baghdad."

"Well," said Vesay, a Ranger who's served in some of the worst war-torn spots on the globe in 20 years with the Army, "I've been to downtown Baghdad. I wish this looked as good as downtown Baghdad."

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13 COMMENTS

I salute and bow my head in respect to all of you who wear the uniforms of our country....whether you serve on the homeland or abroad....I thank you for your willingness to sacrifice for your country. Like rebuilding Iraq, rebuilding the South will take a long time. God speed.

I am only 22 years old and I am married to a Veteran and I hold every topic on soldiers and prayers close to my heart. My husband and I come from a huge line of military family members, and we know the true meaning of Veterans day. I wish that this blog was read more and I wish that Americans understood the true meaning of Veterans Day and not look at it as just a day off.
HOME OF THE FREE BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE!!!!

bless you all!!!

I believe that we are very blessed and should be honored to have the sort of military protection that we do. I have a 21 year old brother that is a Army Soldier that served 1 year in Iraq. I am beyond proud of him as well as all the other men and women that sacrifice thier lives for all of us. I pray everyday for each and everyone of you!!! GOD BLESS and keep safe!!!

Let us always keep pur troops in mind as we live our lives in comfort and security. World terrorism wil be with us for a long time. I give thanks and praise to our brave soldiers that serve their country wherever they are sent. We may not like to see our soldiers in harm's way. However, they are the front line of the defense of what we are as a country 'free'. We are free because we have young men and women that are willing to defend us no matter where we are called to go. Iraq may be a nasty business of what needs to be done. However, I beleive that it is necessary. And, let us keep keep our military and our leaders in our prayers. They need God's guiding hand and His strength for the tasks at hand.

my heart is heavey,we are americans, and the we stand proud of husband,son,neice,nefews,sister borthers,anunt and uncles that serve our honor and our freedom. and keep us safe. i am disgrace by what is see and hear. i wish that the war was over,but it not and we need to stand beside our soliders, no matter how long it takes. gold bless all who serve us and keep us free.my heart is with all of you...god speed....

OUR TROUPS SHOULD BE HOME FROM A LAND THAT SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIX THERE OWN PROBLEMS WE HAVE THINGS THE THE BRAVE PEOPLE COULD DOING HERE.WE DONT HAVE TO PROVE WE ARE THE HOME OF THE BRAVE.WE ARE THE HOME OF THE BRAVE.

I thing our leaders really need praying for! we have had enough war.this country is the home of the brave.And we shoulden have to prove it every generation.Stop, take another way. haven't are young people the right to different directions!KILL KILL,thats all we understand. that makes us no better than the insurgents.Our country has enough to do for its own than running around trying to take care of some thing we know nothing about.

I’m in the military, and I am proud to serve with America’s sons and daughters. There are many who irk me about saying they are proud of the Armed Forces, but they want us home. When 9/11 occurred many wanted fast action on the individuals responsible for that unjust event. I would like to pass on an analogy that I heard by Lt Col Dave Grossman.
American people are like sheep, when the big bad wolf (terrorists or any enemy of the state) come and harm a sheep. The sheep begin to bellow for help, so the Shepard (the government) unleashes the sheep dogs (the military or police). The sheep dogs will chase the wolf until they kill the wolf, but in most cases the sheep see that the sheep dogs have chased the wolf away for now, making the sheep feel safe. However, when the sheep see that no wolf will appear, the sheep start to become nervous that the sheep dogs might get hungry and harm someone, so the sheep bellow for the Shepard to chain the sheep dog up until the next time a wolf appears.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
- John Stuart Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

IF PEOPLE THINK IF WE PULL OUT OF IRAG, AND THEY WILL LEAVE US ALONE, YOU ARE LIVEING IN THE LAND OF OZ.THANK GOD FOR THE BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SEVER

YES, WE ARE THE HOME OF THE BRAVE.PUT GOD BACK IN OUR LIVES AND SCHOOLS....I PRAY EVERYDAY FOR OUR BRAVE TROOPS (MEN & WOMEN), WERE EVER THE MAY BE. I'M VERY THANKFUL THAT I AM AN AMERICAN LIVING IN THIS GREAT COUNTRY. GOD BLESS THE USA...HANG IN THERE WAVELAND,MISS...

I want to thank EVERY man or woman who is serving or has served in the military to keep our country free. Shame on you who think that the men and women that serve our country think "kill, kill, kill" That is complete WRONG. Yes, there are times when that happens, but we are over in Iraq trying to help the people there. The Iraqi people are NOT the ones that are blowing us up. It is the OUTSIDERS that HATE America and all that America stands for that is coming in and doing all of the damage. But my, oh my, how soon we forget 9/11! Terrorist on OUR soil, and if we don't fight them where they are, they will come BACK over here and fight us here. They HATE America because we are free and we have BRAVE men and women who are will to lay down their lives so that WE can keep that freedom..............I wonder where we would be today if George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or any of our fighting forefathers would have been a anti-war activist like we are seeing today. I think we would be speaking a completely different language, and who knows, we might even be the land of the communist and the home of the scared!

Can anyone tell me the orgin of the saying "home of the free because of the brave" or is this a quote that has been handed down through the generations. I found it in Whaleys book and it appears it may have been quoted by Lincoln. Any thoughts?

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