So today I was thinking of writing about the Confederate flag or race relations or something like that.
I have some stories to tell, but it's hard to get them right. There's a good chance I'd come across sounding ashamed of something I shouldn't be ashamed of, or proud of something I shouldn't be proud of. Or I'd make somebody who doesn't deserve it sound like a villain. Or a hero.
It's complicated. And even if I did get it right, somebody would misunderstand me -- maybe a lot of people. Instead, I'm going to tell you a story I remembered last week while I was looking out my office window.
All week I watched beautiful people file into the RiverCenter for the Miss Georgia Pageant. Most were either the contestants themselves or their families. They were wearing exceptionally well-laundered clothing. Somebody's dad was wearing a crisp seersucker suit and the whitest saddle oxfords I've seen in my life.
They were shiny people. I was going to say they were shiny, happy people like the R.E.M. song, but they weren't really happy. They were tense, like the parents of Little Leaguers right before a big All-Star game.
I thought of my mother.
One year back in the '60s, my mom won Miss LaGrange and competed in the Miss Georgia Pageant. Looking at me, I know that's hard to believe. But she did, and she gave away her trophy and vowed that if she ever had a daughter she wouldn't push her to enter beauty pageants -- I mean, scholarship pageants. As it turned out, she did have a daughter and she did exactly what she said.
This made me remember something my mom did when I was 11 or 12. She had taken her children -- me and my younger brother and little sister -- and a couple of our friends for a picnic at a lake near our house.
We spent the afternoon fishing and swimming. When we were ready to leave, my mom pulled our station wagon out of the woods and parked it on a hill overlooking the lake so we could load up our gear. Suddenly, the station wagon lurched forward and started rolling toward the lake, picking up speed. My little sister and her friend were inside.
My mom sprinted alongside the station wagon. The driver's door was open and swinging. She tried to dive inside, but the door knocked her down and one of the tires rolled over her back.
I'll never forget it. The car skidded to a stop and my mother told me to get inside and put on the emergency brake. She told my brother to run up the dirt road and get my father. Then she started praying. I'll never forget how strong and steady her voice was. We listened and we weren't afraid.
Later, Mom would show us the mark the steel-belted radials had made on her back. She fully recovered.
So that's what I've been thinking about -- people like my mother who act fast in the face of danger. Sometimes these bold actions aren't things you can see, but a split decision made with the heart, defying logic.
Lately, in South Carolina, we've seen people forgive somebody who's done them irreparable harm. They have every right to hate, but they choose to love.
Those are the heroes.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, firstname.lastname@example.org