Biloxi, Holloway rate favorable mentions in new Bush memoir

President George W. Bush makes favorable references to the people of Biloxi and particularly Mayor A.J. Holloway in his just-published autobiography, “Decision Points.”

From Page 322, on his initial visit to post-Katrina Biloxi, which took place on Friday, Sept. 2:

Our next stop was Biloxi, Mississippi. I had flown over the area two days earlier, but nothing prepared me for the destruction I witnessed on the ground. I walked through a wasteland. There were uprooted trees and debris strewn everywhere. Virtually no structures were standing. One man was sitting on a block of concrete, with two smaller slabs in front. I realized it was the foundation of a house. The two slabs used to be his front steps. Nearby was a mangled appliance that looked like it might have been his dishwasher.

I sat next to him and asked how he was holding up. I expected him to tell me everything he owned had been ruined. Instead he said, “I’m doing fine. . . . . I’m alive, and my mother is alive.”

I was struck by his spirit and sense of perspective. I found the same outlook in many others. One of the most impressive people I met was Mayor A.J. Holloway of Biloxi. “All the Way Holloway” had been a running back for the 1960 National Champion Ole Miss football team. While Katrina destroyed more than six thousand homes and businesses in Biloxi, there wasn’t an ounce of self-pity in the mayor. He resolved to rebuild the city better than before. Governor Barbour put the spirit of the state into words when he said people were “hitching up their britches and rebuilding Mississippi.”

A few pages later, the president recalls returning to Biloxi in August 2006, a year after the storm.

From Page 329:

Beaches that had been covered with debris a year earlier had been returned to their shimmering white-sand beauty. Seven casinos, supporting hundreds of jobs, had reopened. Church congregations that had been separated were back together again. Few people’s lives had changed more than Lynn Patterson’s. When I met him a year earlier, he was digging cars out of the muck in a neighborhood where all the houses were gone. When I came back to Biloxi, he gave Laura and me a tour of his new home, which had been rebuilt with the help of taxpayer dollars.

Photos: The autobiography also includes two photos from President Bush’s visit to east Biloxi days after Katrina. To see the two images, click here. To see photos from Bush’s visit to Biloxi City Hall on March 1, 2007, when Mayor Holloway presented him a Biloxi license tag, click here.