A Floral Memorial

This week, all eyes have been on Charleston, S.C., the latest site of senseless carnage. The murders of nine people at a bible study at Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has stirred up many emotions — sadness, fear, anger, disgust — not to mention a fierce debate about South Carolina’s legacy with slavery, secession and the Confederacy.

The tragedy has also proved, as Anne Frank said, that “despite everything … people really are good at heart.”

I used to live in Charleston and still have many friends there. Thus, I’ve been privy to many behind the scenes social media posts showing a city in mourning. Locals have held dozens of memorial services; walked hand in hand to symbolize unity, covering the Ravenel Bridge (2.5 miles long); and blanketed the sidewalk in front of the church with flowers. Florists know that flowers communicate what we cannot, and it’s a small comfort to see the public grasp this concept to show their compassion and respect.

Here are a few snapshots of the floral displays to honor the parishioners:

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Manny Gonzales, who owns Tiger Lily Florist with his wife, Clara, in downtown Charleston, has had about 10 people a day stop in to buy bouquets to place in front of the church. The most touching gesture, though, has been a 10-year-old boy who stopped in with his mom for some care and handling instructions. “He wanted to take care of the flowers on the sidewalk,” Gonzales said. “We gave him buckets, flower food, and a watering can.”

“He said he’s going every day to make sure the flowers look good.”