Editorial: We remember Sen. Pinckney
We remember the breathless shock. We remember the held hands and the lighted candles and the anguished words.
We remember the search from the shaken community for meaning, for any hope in a tragedy that filled a county with such despair.
We remember Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
A year ago Friday, June 17, 2015, Pinckney and eight others were killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
In the aftermath, Jasper County supported each other. There were vigils and prayer groups and a sense that the tragic shootings would not be divisive, but unifying.
The county engulfed itself in a collective embrace.
“The unity we had when we held hands and prayed…, do not let this be in vain,” county probate judge and Pinckney childhood friend Buster Kleckley said at Turpin Park the night after the shootings.
We felt the sadness, but also a resolve to heal.
Undoubtedly, many were affected in different ways by the events in Charleston and gestures of kindness happen each day, but the county still struggles to hold that embrace tight.
Eleven county homicides last year, 12 overall.
This year we’ve seen three county and two town homicides, including a fatal shooting recently that left eight children without their mother.
Days later a drive-by shooting was reported in Hardeeville.
Shooting deaths have marred the country, but it’s disheartening to see our county be part of the coverage almost weekly.
We wish we could have bottled the goodwill the night in the park a year ago and shared it with everyone.
Many positive things are happening in Jasper, including the opening last week of the much-needed volunteer-run medical clinic in Ridgeland and the initial building stages of Hardeeville’s new library.
The plans for the port are rapidly moving forward.
These are things that should be celebrated, not overshadowed by another murder.
Honoring Sen. Pinckney’s legacy was a rallying cry the past year, a call to exalt all that is good in Jasper.
But hurting and alienating each other is not the way to way to honor him.
We hope this week’s tributes and remembrances will not quickly fade, but the images of Sen. Pinckney and all the Emanuel Nine will inspire the county to value life, to value each other.