Everyone who cares about Gatlinburg, Tennessee has seen photos by now of the horrific devastation – lives lost, homes destroyed, dreams crushed.
However, the tragedy has also brought people together, provoked strangers to reach out to other strangers, highlighted heroism, and demonstrated the strength of the human spirit. It is the American way; when tragedy strikes, good also emerges.
Here are the top photos that illustrate that point:
1. The American Flag
This American flag provided a symbol of hope and unity as the devastation surrounded it. In addition to the photo of the police officer with the flag, other images of the flag were widely shared on the internet.
2. The Heroic Firefighters Resting
The Gatlinburg tragedy provoked a renewed focus on the heroism of public servants, such as firefighters, who risk their lives to protect their communities. This photo of firefighters taking their first break after battling the blaze for 30 hours was much shared, moving many people.
The firefighters are members of the Johnson City Fire Department, and the photo was taken by Kevin Colbaugh, of the department.
3. The Religious Statue That Survived
People looked for signs of survival amidst the rubble, and as with the metal cross that survived Ground Zero, this statue gave many people hope.
4. The Elderly Couple
This elderly couple dressed up like Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to give stuff animals to kids at a wildlife shelter. The tragedy created images and highlighted deeds of people who reached out to think beyond themselves and assist strangers and community.
5. The Smokey the Bear Drawings
They weren’t photos, really, but the Smokey the Bear drawings captured the emotions of the area.
6. The Bible Verse
A man found this Bible verse in the area near the Gatlinburg fire, and its words provided comfort to some that God was watching over the area and caused others to speculate about “end times.”
You can learn more about the Bible verse here:
7. The Therapy Horse for an Autistic Child
The love people also showed for animals was very moving. There was an effort to raise funds to help heal this wounded therapy horse, which is a companion to a 5-year-old autistic child. There were also efforts to reunite stranded animals with their owners.