2 years ago, when 9 of my neighbors lost their lives at bible study, I was horrified that such hatred existed in the world. I was heartbroken, but was able to find reassurance at the same time by the response of the Charleston community. I didn’t know anyone who lost their life in that tragedy, so I was able to feel removed from it, to a certain extent.
Yesterday was different.
One of the things I love about my job is being able to meet members of the food & bev industry in Charleston and learning about what makes them tick. What their passions are. Why they love what they do. Every person is unique, and although I only interact with them for a short period of time, they leave an impact on me.
That’s why yesterday hit me so much harder.
I met Shane Whiddon last August while tasting the new breakfast menu at Virginia’s on King. When he came out to speak to me, I could tell he was the kind of person who was uncomfortable talking about himself; he was a bit reserved, but kind, friendly, and smiled throughout our entire 10-minute interaction. He got most animated when talking about his family, growing up eating fried chicken with his grandmother and how he wanted to be able to pass that tradition onto young sons. The breakfast menu at Virginia’s was very good, but what lingered on for me and what made an impression during my experience there was how passionate Shane was.
I don’t understand the kind of anger someone has to carry in their heart to take the life of someone else. It hurts me to my core.
Much like after the Charleston 9 tragedy, I take solace in the fact that the community of Charleston is close knit and treats each other like family. I’ve seen so many posts from different individuals and businesses that give me hope that love is much more prevalent than hate. There’s still a lot of hate: I’ve seen a lot of it today in comment threads, but I choose to think of those people as the exception, rather than the rule.
So rather than sink down into a negativity spiral, I’m going to post some messages from Charleston community that showcase what I love so much about this city and hope that we can heal together.
— Kinsey Gidick (@Kinsey_Gidick) August 25, 2017
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of @VirginiasonKing. We are heartbroken. The local business community stands with you.
— LowcountryLocalFirst (@lowcountrylocal) August 24, 2017
Our hearts are broken. We are rattled. All of our love goes to Virginia’s on King. We will be open at 8pm this evening
— Proof (@ProofonKing) August 24, 2017
Our deepest condolences and prayers to the family of Virginia’s on King. We’re all family. @VirginiasonKing
— Hyman’s Seafood (@hymansseafood) August 24, 2017
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Charleston community. We stand with the entire Virginia’s on King family during this tragic time.
— Natl Restaurant Assn (@WeRRestaurants) August 24, 2017
My heart is breaking for the tragedy at Virginia’s on King. Prayers for the chef that was killed. Thank you to… https://t.co/hLiK2d54iV
— English Anne Purcell (@EnglishAnneCHS) August 24, 2017
King Street is in the heart of Charleston., and food ‘n bev folks ARE the heart of Charleston. So sorry for @VirginiasonKing family.
— AHollinger (@AHollinger) August 24, 2017
Our thoughts are with #VirginiasonKing & entire Charleston F&B community. As long time restaurant workers/brewery, this is the unthinkable.
— COAST Brewing (@COASTbrewing) August 24, 2017
— Halls Chophouse (@hallschophouse) August 24, 2017
We are saddened to hear about what happened today in Charleston. Our thoughts are with those affected and their families🙏
— HootieAndTheBlowfish (@HootieTweets) August 24, 2017
— Charleston CityPaper (@ChasCityPaper) August 25, 2017
I don’t know when or if Virginia’s will open their doors again, but if they do, I will be there to order some of Chef Whiddon’s fried chicken and toast to his legacy.
He will be missed.