J.T. Poston holds the Sam Snead trophy Sunday at the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club. Poston won the tournament for his first PGA Tour title, shooting an 8-under 62 for a one-stroke victory. The Hickory native tied Henrik Stenson’s 2-year-old tournament record at 22-under-par 258. He became the first player since Lee Trevino in 1974 to win a 72-hole stroke-play PGA event without a bogey or worse. Story B1
Each summer, the St. Pius X Catholic High School Youth Group travels to Catholic Heart Work Camp where we help a community in a variety of ways.
This summer, we traveled to Richmond, Va., and over 30 teams of teenagers from New Jersey, Virginia and North Carolina were assigned to a family or organization.
Our theme this summer was to be radiant; to illuminate God’s love to others. My team created a garden area for a resident who was recovering from a long-term health issue, and we built a ramp for an elderly couple. We tried to share God’s love with these families. They were experiencing hard times.
For the first few days, we cleared a large area of weeds that had been neglected for a few years. Most of the weeds were almost 4 feet tall!! We filled 14 industrial-size trash bags with weeds.
That week was the hottest of the year in Richmond. It was mid- to upper-90s with high humidity. We had shade under a blanket of trees, but there was absolutely no breeze. We worked together through the heat and ended up making their house look great. We planted flowers and put mulch down, so now they can enjoy beautiful flowers and not ugly weeds. Our resident was so happy to see her flower garden restored. She had a brain tumor and therefore could not tend to her garden for a while.
The next few days involved building a ramp for a different resident. I really enjoyed building the ramp with the adults who volunteered their time to supervise our trip. Not only were they experienced in woodworking, but they shared life lessons with us. One of the guys talked about cars so we connected with our common interest.
Building the ramp was like following a blue print. They had a template that made it easy to build it so we couldn’t mess up.
One day we built it and the next day we installed it.
Even though we didn’t meet the residents, we know that we made a difference in their life.
Not only were we helping the people in this community, we were getting to know kids from other states. Becoming an effective team with new friends can be difficult, but we all tried to get to know each other and use our strengths to be team players.
Having gone on this mission trip for the past three summers, I keep going back because it is amazing. I like meeting new people and it is very satisfying helping others. I have learned that helping others is what God wants me to do. I also appreciate what I have back home: my family, my friends, and my faith.
Hellbenders: The largest salamander in the Americas makes its home in North Carolina. Page A3
Ohio: A bar district where friends gathered for drinks on a warm Saturday night. Texas: A Walmart stocked with supplies for back-to-school shopping on an August morning. California: A family-focused festival that celebrates garlic, the local cash crop.
Two consecutive summer weekends. Less than seven days. More than 30 fellow human beings killed in moments, in places Americans go without a second thought.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps no longer. Have we crossed into an era of second, third, even fourth thoughts?
“I don’t like to go out, especially without my husband. It’s really scary being out by myself,” preschool teacher Courtney Grier, 21, said Sunday outside a grocery store in Virginia Beach, Va., where a gunman killed 12 in a city building in late May. But, Grier says, “You still have to go to the grocery store to get dinner. You can’t just not go.”
That might be an apt slogan for America, circa 2019: You can’t just not go.
Civic life, particularly the public portion of it, has been a foundation of American society since the beginnings. That may have ebbed in today’s nose-in-your-device world, but events like festivals, going out for the evening and in particular shopping remain enduring communal activities. Now those three venues have given us lethal and very public shootings in the space of less than a week.
Add other daily-life institutions that have been visited by mass shootings — houses of worship, movie theaters, malls, a newsroom and, of course, schools — and the question becomes more pressing: Are these loud, sudden events starting to fundamentally change America in quiet, incremental ways?
More importantly, if you’re an American, they’re places like the ones where people like YOU gather publicly and informally — particularly in the summer, when so many are not as hunkered down by weather and obligation.
These aren’t only mass shootings (Gilroy, in fact, with three dead other than the shooter, technically isn’t a “mass shooting” by some of today’s metrics). They are also mass public events that make us deal with something that other places have faced for yearslong stretches: assessing daily life’s danger while moving through it with loved ones.
The chances of an American being caught up in a public mass shooting remain incredibly rare. Nevertheless, the sometimes-toxic cocktail of the events themselves, social media echo chambers and the distorting factors of the 24-hour news cycle can be impactful.
El Paso’s 20, Dayton’s nine and Gilroy’s three have caused online outpourings around many questions, some more political than others. But variations of these two keep cropping up: Are regular places safe anymore? Should we assume that they are?
There are, loosely, two types of reactions that sometimes overlap. One is to back off some, to take more precautions. One is to be defiant. That’s the approach that retired Marine Richard Ruiz, a Gilroy native, says he’s seen in Gilroy in the week since the garlic festival shooting.
“The thing that has changed in Gilroy is our focus,” said Ruiz, 42. “No one is showing signs of being worried or fearful in public. We’re emboldened. We want to go out more.”
In Squirrel Hill, the Pittsburgh neighborhood where a shooter killed 11 people at Tree of Life Synagogue last fall, a commitment to doing exactly that has helped ensure that civic life remains vibrant. There is little visible change except for the “Stronger than Hate” signs in some shop windows that encourage a return to normal life and a commitment to never forgetting.
From Britain, which grappled with a spate of Irish Republican Army attacks from the 1970s through the 1990s, to Afghanistan and Iraq, where public explosions and attacks have been commonplace during the past two decades, the world’s citizens have grappled in many ways with balancing regular life and increased vigilance.
In Israel, during the second uprising against the government’s long-running military rule over Palestinians, Palestinian militants carried out a series of suicide bombings and shootings in Israel, targeting cafes, malls and public buses. Between 2000 and 2005, many Israeli Jews stopped riding public buses and avoided crowded public spaces.
Avraham Sela, a professor of international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, says many Israelis became scared to visit public places, though he says that, in the end, Israelis “never allowed our lives to be dictated by those fears.”
The United States is hardly at that point. But the conversations that now take place — Should we go? Should we take the kids? What’s that noise? — reflect a society that, no matter people’s political beliefs, is starting to process what’s taking place in its midst.
This year marked two decades since two student gunmen killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher at Columbine High School outside Denver, a watershed moment in mass shootings. Sam Haviland, who was a junior at Columbine in 1999, knows other survivors who are fearful in public places or avoid them completely. After years of post-traumatic stress, she chose a different path.
“I decided that I didn’t want to live in fear and that I can’t control it, and so I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I may not be safe in public,” said Haviland, now director of counseling for Denver Public Schools. “The number of shootings since then has just reaffirmed for me that, you know, it’s a real possibility that shootings — that I might even survive another shooting.”
Back in Virginia Beach, a couple sitting together at an outdoor shopping center offered differing views of how to navigate the changed landscape around them.
“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” said Jerry Overstreet, 27, who served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and now operates heavy machinery at a coal terminal.
But Jasmine Luckey, 25, a social worker, is now “super alert,” she says: When she goes to any major public events, she knows where the exits are and often leaves early.
“It just puts me on edge, and I don’t want to be on edge,” she said. “I want to be able to raise children in a place where they can freely leave my side for a little bit and not worry about them getting shot.”