Charlottesville Is 116 Miles From Washington DC, But This Weekend They Were Worlds Apart


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Chip Somodevilla / Staff

Chip Somodevilla/Staff/Getty Images; Y'amal/Flickr

Charlottesville, Virginia, is only about 116 miles from Washington, D.C., but this weekend they were worlds apart in my experience with how everyday Americans relate to each other.

While authorities in Charlottesville were dispersing violent crowds, local hospitals were treating the injured, and racial tensions were escalating, my family and I were enjoying a baseball game.

My husband and I traveled to our nation's capital on Friday night from our home in Delaware to attend a Nationals game with two of our sons and their wives.

On the way, we stopped for gas. At the gas station, my husband held the door for a black gentleman, who in turn held it for me. We exchanged thanks and went on our respective ways.

Later, we stopped for dinner, and, while we ate, a torrential rain came down. As we were leaving the restaurant, we saw a young black man escorting his elderly father to his car with an umbrella. The man with the umbrella offered to come back to escort us to ours. We declined since our car was close, thanked him and made a dash for it.

When we got in the car, we talked about how these two chance encounters with these two men illustrated the fact that everyday Americans, by and large, treat each other with respect and civility.

You can find acts like these all over the country, from the New Jersey hair stylists who opened their salon for free makeovers to people in need — to the police officer who, when called to arrest a mom for stealing diapers, decided to pay for them instead.

Then there was the teen who gave the shoes off his feet to a homeless man. Why? To “overshadow violence,” and so he could “be a blessing for somebody else.”

And so, when we witness hate-fueled tragedies such as that in Charlottesville, let us not respond with hatred, but rather with what makes our nation so great: Everyday Americans reaching out to one another in kindness.

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