It is inevitable that the Charlottesville attack and its aftermath have become a political football. This is understandable. It’s even necessary, because politics is the mechanism by which government changes its mind, and we could certainly use some change.
Nonetheless, it’s easy to forget that a real human being lost her life on August 12.
Heather Heyer was 32 years old — my age exactly. She grew up in the little town of Ruckersville, Virginia, north of Charlottesville. A week ago, she was working as a paralegal at the Miller Law Group. She had previously worked as a waitress and bartender.
She lived alone. Her dog, Violet, was named after her favorite color.
Friends and family agree that Heather was a passionate believer in equality. She once broke up with a boyfriend when he disapproved of her friendship with a black man. She had often posted messages of love to Facebook — but this was her first time ever going to a protest. And she was scared to do it.
Her friend Courtney describes Heather as telling her: “I want go so bad, but I just don’t want to die. I’m so scared because these people are so serious.”
Her mother: “It was important to her to speak up for people who were not being heard.”
Her father: “With her it wasn’t lip service. It was real, you know.” He added, “She had more courage than I did.”
The car struck her at about 1:42 p.m. local time, an act of deliberate violence. Many others were injured.
The man charged with her murder lives less than an hour away from me.
Heather’s father told reporters, “I include myself in … forgiving the guy who did this. I just think about what the Lord said on the cross, ‘Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.’ … I hope that her life and what has transpired changes people’s hearts.”