More than 1,000 people reportedly gathered for a memorial service Wednesday morning in honor of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed Saturday when a car drove into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville, Va.
According to ABC News, friends and family at the service inside the Paramount Theater wore purple, Heyer’s favorite color. Her grandfather, Elwood Shrader, shared touching words: “She showed her passion at an early age,” and later added, “She wanted equality."
Heyer’s cousin, Diana Ratcliff, read a letter for Heather at the service. And Heyer’s mom, Susan Bro, received a standing ovation after delivering an emotional call to action.
“I think the reason what happened to Heather has struck a chord is because we know what she did is achievable. We don’t all have to die. We don’t all have to sacrifice our lives. They killed my daughter to try to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her,” she told the crowd, moving on to explain what she wants now that Heyer is gone.
“Here’s what I want to happen,” she said. “I want this to spread. I don’t want this to die. This is just the beginning of Heather’s legacy. This is not the end of Heather’s legacy. You need to find in your heart that small spark of accountability. What is there that I can do to make the world a better place?” she said, asking everyone to speak out against inequality.
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“You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done and you make it happen. You take that extra step. You find a way to make a difference in the world,” she added.
“My child had a high school education. My child was no saint. My child was hard to raise because everything was a negotiation, not kidding. But you know what? She was a firm believer in whatever she believed in, so let’s do that,” she continued.
“Let’s find that spark of conviction. Let’s find in yourself that action ... Let’s have the uncomfortable dialogue. It’s not easy sitting down and saying, why are you upset?” Bro said.
“We’re not gonna sit around and shake hands and go Kumbaya, but I’m sorry, the truth is, we’re going to have our differences. We’re going to be angry at each other. But let’s channel that anger not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let’s channel that anger into righteous action,” she urged.
Bro relayed the same sentiment at the end of her speech. “Remember in your heart, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. I want you to pay attention, find what’s wrong, don’t ignore it, don’t look the other way,” she said, adding, “Say to yourself, what can I do to make a difference?”
Her closing remarks were touching: “I’d rather have my child but, by golly, if I’ve gotta give her up, we’re gonna make it count.”
The full memorial service can be viewed here. Our thoughts are with Bro and her family.