I just heard another national “leader” using South Carolina as an example of why, not how, the country should change.
I was reminded of the experience that my wife and I had in Charleston only days ago.
We had driven the 70 miles from our home in Murrells Inlet to take part in the Hands Across The Bridge event and visit Emanuel Church to pay our respects to the victims of the killing, and also to honor the people of Charleston for the example of love, forgiveness and unity that they were showing to the nation.
We felt an obligation because someone of our race was so hate filled - and probably insane - that he committed this terrible act.
We found ourselves in Mt. Pleasant, standing at the foot of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston in the midst of thousands who were there to do the same, black, white, brown, Republicans like ourselves, and Democrats, all together for a common cause.
There was much laughter, conversation and excitement. It was more of a party atmosphere than a mourning.
Then someone somewhere in the crowd made a loud “shush” sound, and it spread throughout the thousands who were there.
A silence fell over this throng of good will. It was as if God had entered the room, a sense of peace, a time of introspect and reflection.
The meaning of why we were there rushed back with a tangible wave. There were tears. There was hugging. It was powerful moment that lasted.
And here we are today, allowing ourselves to be torn apart by politicians who see an opportunity to exploit our tragedy for their own good and racists who scream of their hate for the other race, making this an issue of the Confederate flag, using it as a pawn to further their own agenda.
They are people who gain strength through division.
I refuse to let hate destroy the feeling of unity that I have today. The vast majority of us in South Carolina are in favor of retiring the flag, but not for the reasons that our national politicians shout about.
We want to see this happen as a gesture of good will to the families who suffered great loss, and to the people of Charleston - nothing more, nothing less.
This flag issue, I hope, is our last. We are finally taking care of it in the right way. I wish those outside of our state would shut up about it.
But that won’t happen. The more controversy, the better for them.
Don’t lose the feeling we shared in Charleston. Love will overcome hate.
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.