Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Family

Chardon Road

This past weekend found me on an unplanned trip to Ohio. I stopped by Ashland to visit friends before making my way up north on Saturday. My grandfather lives in an eastern suburb of Cleveland, and we talked for some time of his days as an actor and a political player, and of the role his parents played in establishing the independent Ireland. After some time visiting with him, I left to head further east to the home of my mother and stepfather. The trip between their homes takes about 45 minutes, all along Chardon Road. Starting in the town of Willoughby, colors of red and black began to appear on the roadside. Flags were at half-mast outside of government buildings and most private property. The more I traveled down the road, the more the red began to grow--soon on every lamppost, pole, tree, and road sign that there was. It seemed to reach a crescendo at the All Souls Cemetery, where my grandfather's parents and his wife are buried, and where one of the all-too-young victims had just been put to rest earlier that day.

Upon entering Chardon, the tiny town that I have been to often since my mother relocated to just outside of it, signs with hearts on them began to appear among the political yard signs. Every home and building showed a town in solidarity, red and black everywhere. The town square appeared calm beneath the falling snow as I drove by, but it had been hectic earlier in the day as citizens from Chardon and neighboring communities gathered to form a human chain around a local church in order to keep the despicable Westboro Baptists from bothering the mourning families during a funeral. My mother takes this road several times a week to head to her father's home, and said she nearly had to pull over from crying so much on Tuesday as she passed the square and saw the scores of cameras gathered there. She says that she still has difficulty driving the road, tears filling her eyes as they take in the miles-long stretch of red and black.

That small community is strong. They like to say that "Chardon will take care of Chardon," and certainly seem to be doing just that. This quaint Ohio town did not deserve the tragedy inflicted upon it, but if any community can pick up the pieces after such an ordeal, it is Chardon--with the love and condolences of all its neighbors throughout the country, and especially along Chardon Road.
Categories > The Family

Discussions - 5 Comments

The town has shifted from "This isn't possible. How could this happen here?" to "One Heartbeat". There is only the one high school. Everyone's kid goes there or went there or will go there or at least knows kids who go there. We hit city status in the last census, but we think of this as a small town. It feels very small this week.

"This isn't possible. How could this happen here?"

Why would people think it's not possible?

A school shooting occurred in a "quaint Ohio town [that] did not deserve the tragedy." Does any place deserve such a tragedy?

I was reminded of your comment here:
http://nlt.ashbrook.org/2011/03/are-we-ever-in-trouble.php#comment-74926

[Speaking of "urban" (nudge-nudge) Cleveland]: "No one talks about the crime problem, because that is considered racist talk. I don't think anyone really cares if the person mugging them is black or white. But the crime statistics are daunting for anyone who doesn't want to sound like a racist..."

As I watched this video:
http://fox8.com/2012/03/01/demetrius-hewlins-mother-willing-to-forgive-sons-killer/

Crime came to Chardon, but not in the color some might expect, I guess.

If you can find them, look at Chardon's crime statistics. This is not Cleveland.

I think may have been at Ms. Ferguson's yard sale last summer. It's a neighborly thing to do in the area, stop at yard sales for the chat as much as the buying of old vases or Mason jars. In the news stories, she sounds very sweet; she sounds like Chardon. I hope she can remain comfortable here. My daughter tells me half the school was at the funeral yesterday.

I cannot write much about this. It's too close. The Lanes go to our church, are related to the pastor, are friends. I have known both sets of grandparents for most of the thirty-five years I have lived in Chardon. They are heartbroken people. They loved TJ and did their best for him, despite all kinds of problems. The hopes and dreams they had for this child are as dead to them as those children he killed are to their parents. Except he lives and my friends have to walk him through the consequences of what he did.

Here is what the school looks like this week: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lrmonaco/sets/72157629526531147/

Craig, I suppose I should be honored that you remember so much of what I have written here over the years. It is not at all comfortable right now. I am giving you this response, but am not going be able to stomach whatever else you mean to write about this. I'll have to be done here for awhile.

But for the one thing I forgot: Robinson, that was a lovely post and good description of the area as it is now. I wonder if I know your mother. One lesson of this has been that we are all familiar here, by face even when not by name. Watching the national news and seeing so many friends, acquaintances and familiar faces made that evident. Please, tell her I say hello and that I know just how she feels.

Thank you for this post. Well done. Prayers to all those afflicted by this tragedy. God has a plan and my hope is that peace will come to the town and everyone's soul.

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