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Coming together

Disasters have a way of revealing both the best and worst in people. We’ve seen that with Hurricane Sandy.

During the storm, there were all kinds of heroic acts as people put their own safety at risk to help others. This obviously included the men and women who are firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and highway department workers.

But there were people who might be called “Average Joes” who also provided a helping hand at a time of crisis.

Their selflessness acts help define what the word “hero” means, though recognition was probably the furthest thing from their thoughts as they responded in the way that they did.

Interestingly, the nation also saw other instances of people putting aside differences, political ones, to work together. We doubt there are many Americans who thought that they’d never see a time where Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie would be anything but a harsh critic of the administration of President Barack Obama. But since the storm hit, Christie and Obama have seemingly forged a newfound partnership to help the citizens of the Garden State.

That joint response, bringing the forces of the federal and state government in a coordinated effort, was very much on display as the president and governor toured some of the hard-hit areas along the coast.

“I want to thank the president for coming here today. It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey ...,” Christie said. “We’re going to work together to make sure we get ourselves through this crisis and get everything back to normal.”

And it wasn’t just in front of the president that Christie offered his thoughts. Before the hurricane had cut its swath through New Jersey, the governor said that “the president has been all over this and he deserves great credit.”

The president offered like-minded remarks about Christie.

But the public also saw instances of some of the worst in people as well. From looting to scams aimed at the victims, we have seen and will see plenty of behavior that’s despicable.

Let’s also include ill-timed comments, like those made by Michael Brown, the ex-head of FEMA, who is remembered best for botching the response to Hurricane Katrina. Brown this week was criticizing Obama for responding too quickly to Sandy.

It’s truly amazing what a storm will dredge up. And it’s clear that Brown didn’t learn much from his own experiences.

With many Americans weary of the election campaign’s strident tone, seeing Obama and Christie work together has to serve as a reminder that regardless of political party, we are first and foremost Americans.

It’s too bad that it takes a disaster like Sandy to make it happen.

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