The first line — “A bomb has a signature” — comes from a Rachel Maddow Show segment title, which itself came from a quote from fellow Alabamian Joyce Vance. Vance is a former US Attorney, my personal hero, and the daughter-in-law of Judge Robert S. Vance, who was assassinated by a mail bomb in 1989.
Joyce Vance also worked on the investigation into the bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic. I was 17 and in high school 1.7 miles away when the clinic was bombed. We circled around a TV set in my AP Government classroom, completely terrified. The clinic offered a range of women’s healthcare, including free pregnancy tests in the days before disposable drugstore tests. In fact, it’s the place where my mom found out she was pregnant with me.
When I saw Joyce Vance talk about the bombing on the Rachel Maddow Show, that terrifying day came back to me. I was struck by the endless, circular nature of human cruelty, how hatred begets violence and grief, and also how the forces of goodness can find a way to rise even from ashes.