As a journalist and proud South Carolinian, my emotions have truly been all over the place.
After getting the call Wednesday and the instruction to drive all night to be ready to report Thursday morning, I thought only of the editorial job I had to do, the logistics of where to park and making sure the correspondent I was producing for was prepped and ready to be on television. For the first few hours of the day, I thought only about getting the story and all of its horrible details.
But when the sun came up on Calhoun Street in a city I love so dearly, I couldn't help but notice that the stately and gorgeous Emanuel AME church looked different. Or, I wondered, was it I that was different, knowing that I'd have to add "church" to a list of other places (elementary school, movie theater, grocery store) where our safety from evil is no longer guaranteed?
To Charleston - I'll never stop singing your praises and you have made me so very proud to have lived there and to be from South Carolina. Thank you for showing your compassion and your hospitality and for showing America how a community grieving can come together in ways that have made my heart swell at least a thousand times. I'll never stop lobbying to become CNN's first and only Lowcountry Bureau Chief, but I hope the next time I'm in town covering a story, it's one highlighting your beautiful spirit.
To the rest of the world looking at South Carolina - This state is special. The people here are special. We are not perfect, and there are a few bad apples that still remain walking our streets, but that's no more or less than any other place on earth. We've made some mistakes in our past that thankfully we seem to be on the path to correcting. We'd love for you to come visit and we'll show you a real good time, but spare us your lectures or the assumption that we're lesser than you.
Have a great, peaceful weekend. Choose love, my friends.