When word began to spread last month of the gunfire at Emanuel AME Church, Fox News contributor Dana Perino wondered for a moment whether a Fourth of July broadcast the network had been planning at nearby Patriots Point would go on.
The network decided months ago to bring its #ProudAmerican campaign to historic Charleston and surrounding areas. And as calls for unyielding unity reverberated in the wake of the massacre, Perino said it quickly became clear that the city would be an ideal location to showcase unity and other patriotic values.
For her, there was no doubt.
“The families led us by example with grace and dignity,” Perino said. “In the midst of this tragedy, it was Charleston that actually led the nation on how to respond.”
Perino, a former press secretary for George W. Bush, and fellow network contributor Heather Childers will broadcast live throughout the holiday from the museum’s Fourth of July Fireworks Blast festival. Other festival activities on Saturday include live music, a jump castle, food and beverages, Patriots Point spokesman Chris Hauff said.
The event came as a welcomed opportunity to return to South Carolina, a place Perino described as her second home. She and her husband own a home in Bluffton.
Perino visited Emanuel AME shortly after her arrival this week, and plans to include the city’s “reaction to that evil” in her prepared speech.
Perino also plans to mention the organizers of the Bridge to Peace Unity Chain rally to her event, which drew upwards of 20,000 people to the Ravenel Bridge in a show of solidarity.
“People here actually do give back to their communities in lots of creative ways,” Perino said.
Dorsey Fairbairn, one of the Unity Chain’s organizers, said she accepted that invitation. The Mount Pleasant mother of three moved here from the D.C. area and embraced the Lowcountry as home. So when she learned that a gunman had unleashed unprecedented violence in such a “charming, wonderful city,” all she could think was “enough is enough already,” Fairbairn said.
The formulation of the Unity Chain was an organic, grass roots effort, Fairbairn said. Word of the event spread largely through a post Fairbairn made on Facebook.
“I never expected that by hitting the send button all of these people would have responded. ... I know how powerful the Ravenel Bridge is and what a statement it is to the community and to the city. I just thought, what an epic moment it would be if this were to come together,” she said.
On Friday, Perino was still compiling a list of others she hoped to acknowledge during her speech on the Fourth. That list would include the U.S. military and local law enforcement agencies, she said.
In all of her travels, she said with pride, “everyone wants to be more like America.”
Attendees can enjoy the Fireworks Blast festival for free landside at Patriots Point. Parking for all guests costs $10 per vehicle.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.