One week ago today, I woke up, did exercises, made my lunch, got dressed, and turned on my computer. Seeing that "Charleston shooting" was trending, I clicked on the link and was plunged into a moment which has lasted all of this week.
But I am so far removed from the reality that has touched the lives of an entire community in Charleston, South Carolina, a city that I dearly love yet have never lived in.
I don't know anyone directly affected.
I have no family in Charleston.
Yet, day after day, I have seen events and have wondered: will our country finally have the courage to face truths that haven't truly been faced in 150 years? Even people who have little understanding of our Civil War are taking sides in this seeking and reacting that is taking place before our eyes. Events and opinions change by the hour. It would be something difficult to describe to my foreign readers. I hope they will bear with me in the coming days.
All I can do right now is watch the news as so many of us struggle to understand. (I hope to blog more about this on Sunday.)
I don't often publish my personal opinions on my blog. I am a teller of history stories. I don't want to have opinion distract from the history stories I am trying to tell.
I don't have a direct link to the U.S. Civil War. Both sides of my family emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century, years after the Civil War was over. No one in my family ever owned slaves or fought in that war on either side.
Yet I, a Northerner (native of New York City), lived parts of my life in three former (or maybe not so former?) Confederate states: Florida, Arkansas, and Texas. I've visited both South Carolina and Georgia several times in recent years (along with North Carolina, still another former Confederate state).
In fact, I visited both Columbia, South Carolina (the city so in the news for the Confederate flag still flying on the capital grounds while a murdered state legislator of color lies in state in the building where he served - a building my spouse and I toured in March) and Charleston. In March, my spouse and I walked on the college campus where one of the murdered women worked. For all I know, I passed her on the street.
While in South Carolina this past March (Columbia, Camden and Charleston), my spouse and I discussed the Civil War with several residents. I was shaped by my upbringing and these South Carolinians by theirs. Listening is not the same as agreeing.
Sadly, events have proved me right. The Civil War is still being fought. But for now, it is time to remember the dead and honor them.
Let us pause and remember the murdered, as the funerals begin.
On Sunday, I will blog more about this in my Civil War Sunday post. Maybe it will be just a photo collage of the city I have grown to love over four visits in five years, including some places recently in the news.
As the saying goes, we live in interesting times.