Wednesday, February 22, 2006
On this day:

A monument to victory

Less than an hour before the Sunday morning service on September 15, 1963, a bomb shook the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. The church clock read 10:22 AM, and in the terrifying moments afterward, a prayer rose up to heaven: "'Father, forgive them, because they know not what they do."

Killed in the bombing were four young girls: Denise McNair, 11; Cynthia Wesley, 14; Carole Robertson, 14; and Addie Mae Collins, 14. All had been preparing to participate in the church's "Youth Sunday" service that day. Afterwards, the news would report that "the only stained glass window in the church that remained in its frame showed Christ leading a group of little children. The face of Christ was blown out."

In his eulogy for the victims, Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
"They entered the stage of history just a few years ago, and in the brief years that they were privileged to act on this mortal stage, they played their parts exceedingly well. Now the curtain falls; they move through the exit; the drama of their earthly life comes to a close. They are now committed back to that eternity from which they came. These children—unoffending, innocent, and beautiful—were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity." - MLK, Jr., 18 September, 1963.
Thankfully, lots of things have changed since 1963, and today a grateful nation again remembered the sacrifice of four little girls - Denise, Cynthia, Carole, and Addie Mae. May they rest in peace, and may we all find comfort in the knowledge that their deaths were not in vain.