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As I follow news reports about the massacre in Charleston, S.C., I am reminded of the oft overused phrase, “Is nothing sacred?” [“White gunman opens fire at black church in S.C.; 9 dead,” Page One, July 18]

The deadly shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is this generation’s Birmingham bombing. Instead of killing four little girls preparing for their church’s youth day celebration, nine people praying and studying the Bible lost their lives.

If early reports are accurate, this group of black people welcomed a young, white man into their fold to pray and worship, only to be shot to death by him because they were black. Now, individual families, a church family, a community and the entire nation are left to grieve and ask, “Why?”

I hope that as we ask the questions, “Why?” and, “How could this have happened?” and then, “What now?” We must finally begin to address the question of where we go from here.

Wherever we stand on the issues of race relations and gun control, we must acknowledge that we have a national problem that isn’t going to go away on its own. The dialogues and solutions must begin in our communities until they work their way to our nation’s capital where they cannot be ignored or swept under the rug any longer.

John Lovick, Snohomish County Executive