Susan Bro and Mark Heyer, the parents of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was run over and killed by the man who rammed his car into a crowd of demonstrators opposing the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., have brought some sanity to a situation that in simple terms is insane but that unfortunately spotlights a troublesome era in American society.
“They tried to kill my child to shut her up, but guess what, you just magnified her,” Susan Bro said at her daughter’s memorial service held Aug.16 at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville.
At the service, Mark Heyer said that his daughter from a young age was defiant, strong-willed and compassionate and always argued for what she thought was right. He said they didn’t always agree but that he always heard her perspective.
WHAT TO TELL OUR CHILDREN
I’ve read no reports of Heyer’s parents questioning why this tragedy should have happened to their loved one.
Frequently, news reports give us the remorseful and questioning remarks from parents who typically ask “Why?”
Or we hear,“Gone too soon.”
Another frequent heart-wrenching remark is “He/she was starting college tomorrow!”
The strength and commitment Susan Bro displayed in her words “. . . you just magnified her” should be used as a catalyst to guide us through this social and political nightmare we find ourselves living in.
The racism and anger that white nationalists let loose in Charlottesville have been simmering in America but now finally have unleashed their venom.
As parents, we’re not sure how to explain this troublesome and frightening social climate to our children. The truth is, we have no measure of experience as to how to explain it to ourselves.
It’s a war zone, even if we prefer not to admit it. But as the militants used to say back in the Sixties, when someone like Angela Davis was the featured speaker, “Pull the covers off!”
Susan Bro’s words regarding her daughter’s death have laid the mattress bare. The covers are off.
As parents, we not only need to heed the words to “magnify” the life of Heather Heyer but we also need to help our children to understand that silence is not necessarily golden.
As parents, we set the example. Where is our commitment? What are the values we live by? How are we reacting to the tumult?
Children of all ages are watching the turmoil and, most importantly, they’re watching us.
What to tell them? What to show them?
Heather’s parents have said their daughter had a strong sense of what was right and that she stood against things she saw that were against the good for all people.
I call that a message for the rest of us.
THE CHOICE IS OURS
On the opposite end of the parental spectrum is the tragic life of James Alex Fields, 20, the troubled young white nationalist who is charged with ramming his car into the anti-nationalist demonstrators, killing Heather.
His mother, according to news reports, didn’t know much about her son. She knew he was going to a rally but she says she simply thought it was “a Trump rally.” She reportedly didn’t know her son was involved in a white nationalist movement.
She did know enough about him to fear for her life.
In 2010, she reported to police that he had hit her in the head and that he threatened to beat her when she told him to stop playing video games.
Reports further say the mother, who is in a wheelchair, reported he was taking medication to control his temper and that she was locked in the bathroom while calling police.
On another occasion, the reports say, James had threatened his mother with a knife, and that she also called police to say he had spit in her face.
James reportedly spent time in juvenile detention, and his mother is said to have requested that her son be assessed at a hospital.
News reports do not indicate if this was done and, if so, what the results were. But regardless, we can see that help was not provided and, or that if it was, it was inadequate.
James’ mother, as well as Susan Bro and Mark Heyer, have lost their children. But a stark difference in their children is evident.
One of the young persons stood for good and the other was obsessed with evil.
Parents, let’s ask ourselves which of these two young people we will raise our children to emulate.
Susan Bro doesn’t believe Heather has been silenced. She believes her daughter has been magnified, and I believe it is up to other parents to shine our and our children’s light on goodness.
Troubled young people like James Alex Field need the help that his mother requested.
Where to place the blame for a hate-filled young monster who mowed down innocent people?
What forces created the defiant, strong-willed and compassionate Heather Heyer?
These are questions to ponder as parents and to act accordingly.