Two moms stood Saturday before a sign bearing the names of scores of local young men and women killed in recent years.
Both mothers, who were attending the Stop the Violence, Stop the Killing Candlelight Vigil at Hampton Park, located and pointed out their son's names. It was fine that someone paid them tribute, the women said, while adding that the pain of having a child ripped away by an act of violence never goes away.
"It's comforting to me that they haven't been forgotten," Gloria Logan, whose son Corey Antwan Logan was fatally beaten in 2008.
During the afternoon event sponsored by Concerned Citizens of the Peninsula/Lowcountry, Ruth Ann Harrison reached out to other grieving moms through song and said she "hopes people will hear the pleas of the mothers."
Harrison's son Michael Harding was killed by gunfire in 2007. His mom performed a gospel tune, "Safe in God's Arms," in front of the assembly that included many other relatives of homicide victims. "I want people to know that violence is not the answer," Harrison said.
"My boy died just before Mother's Day," she said while ad-libbing a portion of her song. "Yes, I miss my boy."
Harrison's song and poems, read by Fouchena Sheppard, whose nephew Kevin Lamar Johnson, was shot and killed in 2009, helped illustrate the severity of the problem with violence locally.
Linda Rouvet, whose son Steven Rand Rouvet was killed in 2008 by a hit-and-run driver, told how she dealt with her pain by working to get better lighting on the portion of Ashley Phosphate Road where the tragedy happened. She and several other speakers praised Charleston County's Survivors of Homicides counseling program.
"I met so many families and moms," Rouvet said about the program. "It was scary to think we live in a world with the kinds of people who have no soul," she added, describing the cold cruelty of some of the killers.
Alyssa Rheingold, a clinical psychologist with the National Crime Victims Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, said the Palmetto State recorded 350 murders last year, and is eighth nationally in per capita homicide rate. The state has the highest rate of violence in the nation over the past three years, she said.
Each homicide affects an estimated "seven to 10 more relatives and friends," meaning the 350 murders last year translate to "1,500 people grieving after these murders," she said.
While attendance was small, what counts is "who you touch," said Tony Lewis, a local sports figure and public relations person for the Concerned Citizens.
Lewis said so much has changed since his youth, when laws, judges, teachers and parents were all much stricter.
He said he wants to get law enforcement, governments, churches and schools all working together to keep youths from turning to crime and violence.
"We've got to get back to the old ways, the village ways," Lewis said.
Reach Edward C. Fennell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5560.