The word family has the power to stir a range of emotions. If we’re fortunate to have come from a loving family, the word reminds us of time spent with those we care most about. For some, the word family may remind them of a distant relative who shows up around holidays, but remains otherwise distant. For others, the word reminds them only of a struggle to overcome division or dysfunction. For them, the idea of family may instead be defined more by close associations rather than biology.

We can experience a sense of family by participating in team sports, attending religious services, or joining a club. As many of us found out over the last month or so, there can also be a feeling of family in the generosity of strangers who open their hearts and homes during times of trouble.

This week I was reminded of how the people we know through the political process can also become like family.

On Thursday night, I attended a dinner hosted by the Kingwood Area Republican Women where Ted was the keynote speaker. It was remarkable that the dinner was held at all, given the scope of destruction from hurricane Harvey in the Kingwood area. In fact, the organizers were forced to use an alternate location because of storm damage.

The second thing that struck me was the strong turnout. If the storm negatively impacted attendance, it would have been difficult to tell from the row upon row of tables filled with smiling guests. Not only did a large group attend, but they brought with them an energy level that reflected well on the resilience of a community so hard hit by the floods.

During his remarks, Ted commented on the scope of the damage he has seen firsthand during many stops in the cities and towns impacted by Harvey. At times, it appeared as though some were moved nearly to tears as he described the strength of those who lost so much, and the compassion shown by those who came to the rescue of those in need.

It was that compassion, and the selfless service to others, that has made such an impact on everyone who has witnessed it. The people in that room on Thursday lived it. Their example was a good reminder that for all our differences, the American people are still inclined to pull together and help each other.

The United States has always been a melting pot. Some of us may come from a background that includes happy memories while others have had to overcome serious challenges. Some may be entirely well adjusted, and some of us are more like the crazy uncle that struggles to fit in. Still, we who are citizens of this great nation are family.

With all the challenges we face, both here at home and around the world, let’s hope the model of compassion and selfless service seen so clearly in Texas will be replicated in every corner of our great nation.