MILFORD - While the clashing of views caused horror in Charlottesville, VA, Saturday, it led to people expressing their shared anger and emotions in Milford, PA, Sunday evening.
Outside of the Pike County Courthouse a handful of persons gathered with one intention, to honor those hurt and remember Heather Heyer who was killed. Milford Mayor Sean Strub said the vigil was a chance for the community to stand in “solidarity with the people of Charlottesville.” In addition to the events Saturday, it is “painful” to watch what is happening in the country, but the only way for the matters to be addressed is by joining together. The woman who was killed, Strub said, “could have been any one of us.”
The Executive Director of Safe Haven, Tamara Chant said she couldn’t believe the hatred that occurred Saturday, as it reminded her of “something out of the backwoods days.” The vigil in Milford, she stated, was a gathering where citizens were “standing here for no violence.”
At first many were hesitant to speak, but Linda Peter noted how all in attendance were unalike in “color,” as everyone is “different.” But, it is the variances that Peter believes makes society great, as life would be “boring” if everyone were the same. And so, she said everyone belongs because, “we all beat with the same heart.”
With ties to Virginia and the Charlottesville area, a woman who would only tell her first name, Tracy presented a sweatshirt with “Virginia” across the chest. Tracy said she would never have expected such terror to occur where it did, but she was pleased to see her local community gather and show how they cared.
A man, Kurt said the fact that the United States was “built on diversity” made Saturday’s occurrences “sad.” The diversity is what Kurt believes makes “this country strong,” while bigotry, fascism, sexism and extreme religion “does not build a country.” Diversity “is what this world is about,” he said.
Jay Tucker said people must work together and listen to others in order to understand “where they’re coming from.” By actually listening, Tucker said he feels people will have a better understanding of others.
Debbie Schneider was at the vigil with her 90-year-old father, Gene who is a WWII veteran. In recent days, Debbie said she has heard many other WWII veterans offering to fight the Nazis yet again.
Despite having immense feelings of love, Cindy Stine said she was “so angry” as she is tired of being silent. Peter said she feels that many others share the feelings of anger. In response to Stine, Gene Schneider said love mustn’t be abandoned.
Having stood on the protest lines at Berkley College years ago, and as a “child of the 60’s,” a woman who has lived in the area for 20 years, said she was “horrified” at what “we have allowed to happen” as a license has been given to some to “hate above the surface.” Because of that, however, those who hate must be confronted. Recalling a time when she read the Diary of Anne Frank, the woman said she thought such actions couldn’t occur in America. After Saturday, she realizes it can and is it “what fascism looks like” and as a result, she said, “we have to say no.”
A woman whose father was in a concentration camp during WWII and has had a home in Milford for 30 years, once thought such actions wouldn’t happen in the United States. Because of the dismay that has happened, however, the woman became emotional as she realizes that anyone can be affected and consequently, people must try to “keep the love for everyone alive, even when that’s incredibly difficult,” she said.
Peter told another woman that America will survive because of those willing to fight and that was proven, as many in the region took part in the march in Washington earlier this year. Their efforts to address hate, bigotry and homophobia will continue as people will stand up for what is right she believes.
Although Marianne Ruby feels “love will and does conquer hate,” she also thinks it is necessary for people to express themselves, especially when angry, because bottling up such feelings is not good she said.
Having taught preschool aged children for years, a woman said “children do not hate” but rather in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘we teach them to hate.’ Therefore, the hate must end in order for things to get better, she stated.
Strub said while he was upset to see the pain and violence, he wasn’t surprised. And the reality is that, it could happen anywhere. He quoted a friend who is African American that said the fight against racism is not just for African Americans anymore. Racial issues, go beyond the color of one’s skin, because racial superiority is “invisible to most of us” and so, it must end.
A friend of Amy Eisenberg’s was in Charlottesville Saturday, counter protesting the neo-Nazis. While Eisenberg was too emotional to share her friend’s words, Elizabeth Stine read the message, that said how the Nazi’s hide when able because they do not stand a chance against those who have “been subjected to real adversity” for “merely existing." For those willing to hurt others, Eisenberg’s friend said they must be confronted. In reality, those who are not white face “death every day at the hands of white supremacy.” The truth is that, the fight has existed for a long time and it will continue and so, ‘we must love’ and support one another.
After the vigil, Elizabeth Stine who just turned 18 said seeing how things in society are happening “hurts” because in reality everyone is “different in a sense” no matter one’s ethnicity but rather “we’re all supposed to be equal.” No matter the person, Stine believes “we should love each other for what we are.”