Little Faces

Today I received a package from my sister, who lost her husband a little over a year ago, to a stroke, or heart attack, or whatever takes one aged 59, suddenly.  It was filled with pics from his childhood, which she wanted me to scan.  This after a week of my saying things about reflecting on pictures of little faces who didn’t know their lives were going to end prematurely.  My best friend had returned from a once in a lifetime trip to her homeland, Cuba, with photos of her older brother, Moses.  Moses was killed in Vietnam when he was 20 years old.  The photos, taken in his homeland before the immigration to the U.S., show a young boy full of laughter and promise.  That’s what I had been reflecting on all week, prior to receiving the photos from my sister.  Her batch of black and whites show exactly the same thing:  a little boy excited at seeing a barnyard rooster nearly as tall as himself.  Watching a groom brush a big birdshot grey horse while standing directly in the line of its back feet.  A baby cooing.  A baby smiling. Little faces that don’t have a clue what’s going to happen.

Then, at 4:30 this afternoon, I biked downtown to the First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street, which for non-Capital City residents means it is the “Black” church, there being an uppity White First Baptist across from the Capital Square.  I went for a youth rally against the restrictive voting legislation that our regressive General Assembly just passed.  And as it turns out it was also a memorial to the four little girls (and one boy, who is never mentioned) whose lives were sacrificed in the Birmingham Church bombing.  Again I am faced with the photos of four little children.

The photos for the most part look like school pictures.  Typical smiles directly into the camera. What kind of world do we live in?  Where little girls are memorialized for attending a Sunday School that is dynamited by members of the Ku Klux Klan? I come home to find that the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington DC was visited by a mad gunman, who killed 12 others before himself.  Somewhere there are the school pictures of smiling boys and girls, with no clue as to what their fate will be.

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