amb altidor2Five years ago today one of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history struck the nation of Haiti. The earthquake of January 12, 2010 will never be forgotten.

On that fateful day, we experienced a national trauma. Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed. Almost two million people were displaced. And more than 300,000 people perished, their voices silenced, their dreams ended. Parents lost sons and daughters. Husbands and wives were widowed. Children became orphans.

We must remember their lives, honor their memories, and live richly in service of others so we can continue to heal as a nation. We owe something to the survivors: the promise to rise from the rubble, to continue to build, and to make sure every Haitian has a home.

These past few years, we saw the courage of our citizens come to life, as millions of Haitians rallied to selflessly help each other. We also saw an outpouring of support from the international community. They rose up to help us in our most desperate time of need. All of these efforts remain deeply appreciated.

This tragedy has not stopped the spirit of Haiti. It is the same spirit that is heard in our music, seen in the vivid colors of our art, and felt in the rhythms of our Creole language. It is also this spirit which transpired in our reconstruction efforts; relocating the displaced, providing social and economic solace, rebuilding housing and infrastructure. Our spirit remains unbroken while the healing of our hearts and our land continues.

It takes time to heal a wound or to heal a heart. But to heal a nation it takes the joining of all hands in unity.Let us continue to heal our nation together. Let us rise together, to create a better, stronger nation. Let us never forget the thousands of lives lost, the millions who were displaced.

We are a land of high mountains. We are a home to free men and women. We are a people whose greatest days lie ahead of us. L’union fait la force. Union creates strength.