Dear Charleston: A Letter to Our City

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Dear Charleston,

As the autumn leaves fall from the trees and the brisk winds awaken us to dark skies, we find ourselves in a time of reflection.

This year, the limits of our souls were tested and we stood strong.? From Charleston to Mount Pleasant, we joined hands in unity to stand up for peace and community.? Blind of color, race, ethnicity or values, we looked directly into the eyes of terror and said, “No, we won’t stand for this.”

The nation and the world watched as we led a crusade for freedom.? Just days after we remembered the Charleston 9, we lost nine more brothers and sisters to a heinous crime of hatred.? Under the hands of the Lord in his home, we witnessed the unthinkable.? Together, we set aside all differences and we united.? Not in violence, not in revenge, but in hope.

On the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War, we became the platform for the separation of black and white once again.? When the blood of Walter Scott spread on Charleston area soil, the potential for a war was in our midst.? Once again, we looked inside ourselves and black and white became a rainbow of acceptance.

Caitlyn, our beloved pit bull taught us that all lives matter.? After expensive surgery, fund raisers and awareness that stretched from coast to coast, Charleston become the home for the fight for animal rights.? One dog, one community together.? Today, we look at Caitlyn and see the most beautiful dog in the world.

Just as we dried our tears, the One Thousand Year Flood ravaged our homes leaving hundreds and thousands lost and confused.? Every town, every city looked for answers, not just for the events of that weekend, but the future.? So many of us lost our homes, our memories and an uncertainty of the future of the land.

The generosity of our neighbors from the North to the South with donations, supplies and volunteers, showed just how much love we emit.? This is a testimony to the value of love and how 2015 has truly defined Charleston as the City of Love and Unity.

When Mitch Lucas announced the shooting and eventual death of Deputy Joseph Matuskovic, we mourned.? Joseph was a family man, friend, neighbor, avid sports fan, outdoors lover and a caring member of our community.? From East to West Coast, officers in uniform came to pay their last respects to this fallen officer.? As we remember Joseph, we know he did this to protect all of us and forever we are indebted.

Now, after 40 years, Mayor Riley, known so fondly as “The Mayor” has gracefully stepped down as the leader of Charleston.? A gentle man with a heart of gold, Mayor Riley has transformed Charleston to one of beauty, historic importance, economic growth, prosperity, unification and hope.? His legacy will continue to live on long after we have departed.? As we welcome our new mayor, we see this as a symbolic sign of change; a fresh perspective and new beginnings.

We love you Charleston with each new sunrise reminding us of a bright future.? We hold you close as you protect us.? We welcome our guests with open arms and a long embrace.

To you, we say Thank you.

Love,

Your Family