USA News

Town’s strength and grace in wake of massacre

What felt like the entire town turned out to the local ballpark for an extended memorial service on Monday.

They were determined the massacre that unfolded in their church wouldn't stop them.

Pastors moved through the crowd, a church band played, and people hugged and cried.

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Red Cross and Good Samaritan volunteers stood by.

A food truck served up BBQ, and the smell mixed with that distinctive perfume of hot earth and grass that is particular to the driest southern states.

One elderly man sobbed in the centre of his family and friends. They quite literally held him up as his knees buckled with grief.

A couple hugged and wept, raising their hands in the air, lost in catharsis.

Image:People pray before crosses for each of the 26 people killed in the church shooting

Parents hugged their children close, whispering to them and kissing their heads, tears rolling silently down cheeks as they considered how lucky they were.

It was a deeply impressive display of self reliance and community, an attempt to understand, to cope, and to reclaim the worship that was shattered by a gunman with an automatic rifle on Sunday morning.

At these moments, one understands how faith glues together small town America.

Whatever you think of gun rights, gun control, or any of the arguments that shape these ideas, this was a moment to admire, a show of genuine resilience in the face of adversity.

In its own way, an act of defiance.

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