Carthage, Miss. — I was raised in McComb, a little town located about two and a half hours north of the Gulf of Mexico. Some of my fondest memories of childhood were when my Aunt Theresa would take me and my sister on vacation at the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.
I lived with my great-grandmother who adopted me when I was very young. Growing up with an elderly parent, although they love you very much, means you don’t always get out to do “fun” things as much as some other families did.
In stepped Aunt Theresa, one of the favorites of my father’s three sisters, she was the youngest of my dad’s siblings; fun loving and adventurous. She did everything with us from going to the park to driving all the way to the coast to let us relax on the beach. Sometimes we even went as far as Florida which was over 6 hours away.
At the beach we would find hermit crabs, jelly fish and other amazing creatures. The strip of beaches was also lined with good places to eat at and places to shop. The souvenir shops were filled with little treasures like necklaces and other jewelry made of shells. There were little sharks in jars, polished rocks and gems, T-shirts, suntan lotion, etc. I still have some of the souvenirs from those trips, twenty plus years later.
When I started my first job, the office I worked for was based in Gulfport on the coast. I would visit there and when I got a break I would slip away to the beach. It was always good to feel the ocean mist on my face again. My co-workers loved living and working near the beach as well. They would often spend their free time at the beach, escaping the stress of work.
The coast is also a vacation home to some of my relatives. I have cousins who share condos in Gulf Shores, Alabama. They often speak of the cleanliness of the beach and the amazingly relaxing ocean with its salty breezes.
Now my family and friends are talking about something very terrible that has happened at the coast. An oil rig about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana exploded and then sank to the bottom of the sea, killing 11 people and spilling over 600,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf.
The spill threatens the existence of sea and plant life for hundreds of miles. I feel this could affect our whole country’s supply of seafood and sea related industry for years to come. I personally know people who make their living selling fresh fish and shrimp to areas throughout the state. I am betting they do not have a second means of income to fall back on.
A way of life will have to change. There will be no more vacations at the beach. No more fishing in the ocean and no more playing in the sand. No one will want souvenirs from such a dismal place as an oil stained beach. But I know there will be an up side. There are people out there who will volunteer to help clean up the mess. Even though BP is taking responsibility for the spill so far, the residents of our state and especially the locals will rebuild once again as we did after hurricane Katrina.