A Blessing Amidst Tragedy

An honor guard stands in front of a row of nine caskets during a memorial service in North Charleston, S.C. on Friday, June 22, 2007 for the nine firefighters killed in a blaze at a furniture store on Monday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
AP Photo/Dave Martin
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchorHarry Smith.

Most of us who travel keep a mental checklist of the places we've been and the places we'd like to go.

Last week I finally made it to Charleston, S.C. I stood on the battery of Charleston's waterfront. I could clearly see Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the War Between The States were fired. But did you also know that Charleston is home to Fort Moultrie, the sight of the colonies' first naval victory over Britain in 1776? There is history here at every turn.

Many of the city's grand old homes and buildings have been faithfully cared for and restored; charming to the eye, to be sure.

But the city's best feature is its people. A terrible fire in Charleston last month killed nine firefighters. Since then local folks have helped raise more than $2 million for their widows and children. So closely knit is this community that firefighters here have no badge numbers. The chief knows every single one on a first-name basis.

Unique, indeed, and I can't wait to get back.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith