Tonight, in Chattanooga, we're not Democrat or Republican, straight or gay, Christian or Muslim, black or white, conservative or liberal.
We're not rich or poor or in between. We're not management or labor, working class, middle class, or upper class.
Tonight, we're not even Orange or Crimson.
Tonight, we're not arguing politics or religion, and we're looking at each other with compassion and understanding, rather than suspicion and fear.
Tonight, the pain of being alive outweighs the joy of it, and reminds us that what we share is stronger than the trivial things that set us apart.
Tonight, we're hugging our kids, our friends, and our families. And we hurt like Hell for those of us who lost what they loved the most.
Tonight, we cry and pray and swear and burn candles and sing hymns. We shed tears for the little kids who have been taken away, send thoughts of love and strength to the ones still fighting for their lives, and wish for peace and comfort for their families, the moms and dads and brothers and sisters who said their unknowing last goodbyes this morning.
Tonight, we want to hold the survivors, to tell them they're all right, to let them cry and lean on us.
Tonight, we went to the hospitals, to the sight of the crash, and to the schools, to help in some way, to mourn, to hold up those who can't bear the weight of their loss. We lined up, out of the building and down the street, to give blood.
Tonight, in Chattanooga, there is a little boy or girl crying tears into their pillow, hoping to wake up from a bad dream, and knowing they won't. Because when they came to school, on their very first day, they were scared and alone in a brand new world. And they stayed that way, until they met a friend. That friend stood by their side, and together, they faced the fears that come with being small and vulnerable and unsure. They talked and played together, every day. And in the afternoon, they said good-bye, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow, they'd talk and play again.
And now their friend is gone.
Tonight, we're there for that little person.
Because tonight, at some level, no matter how stoically we watched the news or bravely we reacted or how charitably we reached out to help, we're all scared and sad and confused little kids again. And we need each other to get by.
Tonight, we cry together.