Our nation mourns together

Community members join hands at the top of the Ravenel Bridge Sunday during a unity chain event where thousands gathered to pray, sing and join hands in honor of the nine shooting victims from Emanuel AME Church. (Jenna-Ley Harrison/Journal Scene)

The searing shock and lingering pain inflicted by last week’s mass murder at the Emanuel AME Church hasn’t been confined to Charleston. It has extended across our nation. And Americans’ expressions of sympathy and solidarity have helped bolster our community’s spirit in this time of profound sorrow.

So it’s quite fitting that as our nation mourns the nine good people killed at a Bible study meeting, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, will deliver the eulogy today at the funeral of one of those victims — the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who also was a state senator.

The attendance of first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the ceremony will further represent America’s shared grief at the College of Charleston’s TD Arena on Meeting Street — a short walk from the Emanuel AME church on Calhoun Street. Numerous local and state officials will be there, too, including General Assembly members now feeling such a deep loss from the passing of their colleague Sen. Pinckney.

This isn’t Mr. Obama’s first visit to Charleston. On Jan. 10, 2008, 16 days before his lopsided victory in South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary, he addressed a large, cheering crowd at the College of Charleston Cistern after being endorsed by John Kerry, now his Secretary of State. Mr. Obama, then a senator from Illinois, proclaimed: “In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”

That campaign rally was a major celebration.

Today, nearly 7½ years later, Mr. Obama is coming back to our Holy City for a somber occasion. Yet today’s funeral for Clementa Pinckney will also be a celebration of the inspiring examples set by him and the other victims of last week’s atrocity .

America’s outpouring of compassion for our community is a cause for grateful celebration.