Cynthia Dionne Wesley

Cynthia Dionne Wesley

Cynthia Wesley

    Cynthia Wesley was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 30, 1949. On September 15, 1963, the 14-year-old Wesley and three other young girls were killed in a church bombing perpetrated by members of the Ku Klux Klan. This crime marked a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Three men responsible for the terrorist act were brought to justice between 1977 and 2002.

    <a></a>Early Life and Death

    Cynthia Dionne Wesley was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 30, 1949. She attended the 16th Street Baptist Church with her adoptive parents, Claude and Gertrude Wesley. On the morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, a 14-year-old Wesley was in the church basement room with a group of other children.

    At 10:22 a.m., a bomb exploded under the steps of the church. Wesley died in the blast, along with 11-year-old Denise McNair, and 14-year-olds Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins. In addition to the four fatalities, more than 20 people were injured during the incident.

    <a></a>Political Context

    The bombing that killed Wesley and the three other girls was a racially motivated hate crime. It occurred in the context of social upheaval in the city of Birmingham, known as "Bombingham" after a spate of terrorist activities.

    In the months leading up to the church bombing, the Civil Rights Movement had made strides in the city of Birmingham. In May 1963, city and civil rights leaders negotiated the integration of public spaces, sparking widespread violence. The 16th Street Church, frequently used as a meeting place for leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph D. Abernathy, was an obvious target for this activity.

    The shocking murder of the four girls drew national attention. A memorial service for three of the four—including Wesley—attracted an estimated 8,000 mourners.

    <a></a>Prosecutions

    Despite its prominence, the bombing remained an unsolved case until the 1970s. Robert Chambliss, a member of a Ku Klux Klan group seen placing the dynamite under the church steps, was arrested in 1963 but tried only for the illegal possession of explosives. The case remained dormant until 1971, when Attorney General William Baxley reopened it. Baxley obtained FBI files containing substantive information, including the names of suspects, which had remained unreleased by J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s. In a later statement, the FBI stated that their investigation had been impeded by the lack of witness cooperation in Birmingham.

    In 1977, 73-year-old Robert "Dynamite" Chambliss was convicted of the murder of the four girls and sentenced to life in prison. Two other perpetrators—Thomas Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry—were convicted in 2001 and 2002, respectively. A fourth suspect, Herman Frank Cash, died in 1994, before he could face charges.

    Family of 16th St. bombing victim says name has been wrong for decades

      BIRMINGHAM - AL -

      This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.  It was a year of hardships - and victories that changed the nation. Part of the struggle was the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. But now, the family of one of the four victims says there's a big mistake in how the girls are remembered.

      There are markers all over the nation remembering the four girls who died that day.  The family of one of the girls - says her name on every one of those markers is wrong. They hope in this 50th anniversary, she's remembered as they knew her.    "I was standing up for what I believed in," Fate Morris, Cynthia's brother said.   The events of 1963 are still vivid in Fate Morris' memory.   "Hosed down with a big, powerful water hose, chased by the dogs down there," Morris said.   Fate and his sister, Cynthia, were raised by a single mother.  In order to enter a better school, Cynthia stayed with Claude and Gertrude Wesley - who were unable to have children. She came home on weekends.   September 15, 1963 left the Morris' with a pain that hasn't faded.   "And then I heard - 'I've got another body over here but she has no head.' But I went home," Morris said. "My friend came by later on and said, 'what happened? You should have stayed. The girl they found with no head - that was your sister. But I didn't stay - I left her buried under all of those bricks."   "I first heard on TV they were calling her Cynthia Wesley," Morris said. "I asked my mother, does that bother you? And she said, yeah of course that bothers me."   The Wesley's  told Ms. Morris they would send a car to pick them up for the funeral. The car, never came.   "We waited a long time and we ended up taking a cab to the funeral," Morris said.   "Another family who you've befriended is going to help you, and you get to the church and you're sort of pushed aside so that these other people can stand by your daughter's casket?" Stephanie Engle, a researcher helping victims of 1963 said.   Fate says his mother was too deep in grief for a public fight with the Wesley's. The grave in Greenwood Cemetery reads Cynthia "Dionne" - but on her birth certificate, it's Cynthia Diane Morris.   "How do you live every day for 50 years knowing your sister was wrongly named?" Engle said. "It's murder followed by identity theft."   Fate used these papers to prove her identity and changed her death certificate. This year, the four girls were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. The name on the medal, "Cynthia Wesley."   "It shouldn't be that way," Sarah Collins Rudolph, who was in the church during the bombing and a friend of Cynthia's said. "She should have her name changed so she can be recognized in history with her real name."   "Initially, the Congressional Medal was a nice gesture," Engle said. "I really do. I think it was phenomenal. The problem is - you have to fix the problem first then award the recipients."   Fate says he hopes during this 50th commemoration - people will remember his sister as she was born. The goal now is to move her remains to the Morris family plot.   "Hearing her name used as Cynthia Wesley and not Cynthia Morris - I'm not crying about Cynthia Wesley, I'm crying about Cynthia Morris.... my sister," Morris said.   In an interview years later, Gertrude Wesley said they never fully adopted Cynthia. The Wesley's have passed away - along with most of their family members. A statue is being built in Kelly Ingram Park memorializing the four girls. We asked the city how her name would appear, but the city was not willing to comment.

            Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley

            Clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair

            Known as "Bombingham" for the 50 racially motivated bombings that took place there between 1945 and 1962, Birmingham, Alabama remained completely segregated in the early 1960s and was a prime focus of the civil rights movement. As part of the movement, African American churches served as its spiritual backbone and were used as meeting places for the black community. Because of this, they were a major target for segregationist attacks.

            The 16th Street Baptist Church was at the center of Birmingham's African American community, hosting mass meetings and serving as the staging area for multiple civil rights marches. On Sunday, September 15, 1963, Ku Klux Klan members bombed the Church. A box of dynamite with a timer was placed under the front steps steps of the church, near the basement, and was set to go off during Sunday prayers. That morning twenty-six children were in the church's basement assembly room preparing for the service when the bomb exploded. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the bomb blast. The girls had been dressed in their Sunday best, ready to sing and act as ushers at the adult service, and only a few minutes before the explosion they had been together in the basement women's room, talking about the new school year. Addie Mae Collins' younger sister, Sarah, had been with the four girls when the bomb exploded, but survived the attack as did the other 22 children in the basement.

            The deaths of the four girls followed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy two months later gave birth to a tide of grief and anger--a surge of emotional momentum that galvanized the civil rights movement and ensured the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

            The Edwardsville Intelligencer, 15 Sep 1963, Sun, Page 1

                  Six Dead After Church Bombing

                    Blast Kills Four Children; Riots Follow
                    Two Youths Slain; State Reinforces Birmingham Police

                    United Press International 
                    September 16, 1963

                    Birmingham, Sept. 15 -- A bomb hurled from a passing car blasted a crowded Negro church today, killing four girls in their Sunday school classes and triggering outbreaks of violence that left two more persons dead in the streets.

                    Two Negro youths were killed in outbreaks of shooting seven hours after the 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed, and a third was wounded.

                    As darkness closed over the city hours later, shots crackled sporadically in the Negro sections. Stones smashed into cars driven by whites.

                    Five Fires Reported 
                    Police reported at least five fires in Negro business establishments tonight. A official said some are being set, including one at a mop factory touched off by gasoline thrown on the building. The fires were brought under control and there were no injuries.

                    Meanwhile, NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins wired President Kennedy that unless the Federal Government offers more than "picayune and piecemeal aid against this type of bestiality" Negroes will "employ such methods as our desperation may dictate in defense of the lives of our people."

                    Reinforced police units patrolled the city and 500 battle-dressed National Guardsmen stood by at an armory.

                    City police shot a 16-year-old Negro to death when he refused to heed their commands to halt after they caught him stoning cars. A 13-year-old Negro boy was shot and killed as he rode his bicycle in a suburban area north of the city.

                    Police Battle Crowd
                    Downtown streets were deserted after dark and police urged white and Negro parents to keep their children off the streets.

                    Thousands of hysterical Negroes poured into the area around the church this morning and police fought for two hours, firing rifles into the air to control them.

                    When the crowd broke up, scattered shootings and stonings erupted through the city during the afternoon and tonight.

                    The Negro youth killed by police was Johnny Robinson, 16. They said he fled down an alley when they caught him stoning cars. They shot him when he refused to halt.

                    The 13-year-old boy killed outside the city was Virgil Ware. He was shot at about the same time as Robinson.

                    Shortly after the bombing police broke up a rally of white students protesting the desegregation of three Birmingham schools last week. A motorcade of militant adult segregationists apparently en route to the student rally was disbanded.

                    Police patrols, augmented by 300 State troopers sent into the city by Gov. George C. Wallace, quickly broke up all gatherings of white and Negroes. Wallace sent the troopers and ordered 500 National Guardsmen to stand by at Birmingham armories.

                    King arrived in the city tonight and went into a conference with Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a leader in the civil rights fight in Birmingham.

                    The City Council held an emergency meeting to discuss safety measures for the city, but rejected proposals for a curfew.

                    Dozens of persons were injured when the bomb went off in the church, which held 400 Negroes at the time, including 80 children. It was Young Day at the church.

                    A few hours later, police picked up two white men, questioned them about the bombing and released them.

                    The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wired President Kennedy from Atlanta that he was going to Birmingham to plead with Negroes to "remain non-violent."

                    But he said that unless "immediate Federal steps are taken" there will be "in Birmingham and Alabama the worst racial holocaust this Nation has ever seen."

                    Dozens of survivors, their faces dripping blood from the glass that flew out of the church's stained glass windows, staggered around the building in a cloud of white dust raised by the explosion. The blast crushed two nearby cars like toys and blew out windows blocks away.

                    Negroes stoned cars in other sections of Birmingham and police exchanged shots with a Negro firing wild shotgun blasts two blocks from the church. It took officers two hours to disperse the screaming, surging crowd of 2,000 Negroes who ran to the church at the sound of the blast.

                    At least 20 persons were hurt badly enough by the blast to be treated at hospitals. Many more, cut and bruised by flying debris, were treated privately.

                    (The Associated Press reported that among the injured in subsequent shooting were a white man injured by a Negro. Another white man was wounded by a Negro who attempted to rob him, according to police.)

                    Mayor Albert Boutwell, tears streaming down his cheeks, announced the city had asked for help.

                    "It is a tragic event," Boutwell said. "It is just sickening that a few individuals could commit such a horrible atrocity. The occurrence of such a thing has so gravely concerned the public..." His voice broke and he could not go on.

                    Boutwell and Police Chief Jamie Moore requested the State assistance in a telegram to Wallace.

                    "While the situation appears to be well under control of federal law enforcement officers at this time, the possibility of further trouble exists," Boutwell and Moore said in their telegram.

                    President Kennedy, yachting off Newport, R.I., was notified by radio-telephone and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered his chief civil rights troubleshooter, Burke Marshall, to Birmingham. At least 25 FBI agents, including bomb experts from Washington, were being rushed in.

                    City Police Inspector W.J. Haley said as many as 15 sticks of dynamite must have been used.

                    "We have talked to witnesses who say they saw a car drive by and then speed away just before the bomb hit," he said.

                    In Montgomery, Wallace said he had a similar report and said the descriptions of the car's occupants did not make clear their race. But he served notice "on those responsible that every law enforcement agency of this State will be used to apprehend them."

                    The bombing was the 21st in Birmingham in eight years, and the first to kill. None of the bombings have been solved.

                    As police struggled to hold back the crowd, the blasted church's pastor, the Rev. John H. Cross, grabbed a megaphone and walked back and forth, telling the crowd: "The police are doing everything they can. Please go home."

                    "The Lord is our shepherd," he sobbed. "We shall not want."

                    The only stained glass window in the church that remained in its frame showed Christ leading a group of little children. The face of Christ was blown out.

                    After the police dispersed the hysterical crowds, workmen with pickaxes went into the wrecked basement of the church. Parts of brightly painted children's furniture were strewn about in one Sunday School room, and blood stained the floors. Chunks of concrete the size of footballs littered the basement.

                    The bomb apparently went off in an unoccupied basement room and blew down the wall, sending stone and debris flying like shrapnel into a room where children were assembling for closing prayers following Sunday School. Bibles and song books lay shredded and scattered through the church.

                    In the main sanctuary upstairs, which holds about 500 persons, the pulpit and Bible were covered with pieces of stained glass.

                    One of the dead girls was decapitated. The coroner's office identified the dead as Denise McNair, 11; Carol Robertson, 14; Cynthia Wesley, 14, and Addie Mae Collins, 10.

                    As the crowd came outside watched the victims being carried out, one youth broke away and tried to touch one of the blanket-covered forms.

                    "This is my sister," he cried. "My God, she's dead." Police took the hysterical boy away.

                    Mamie Grier, superintendent of the Sunday School, said when the bomb went off "people began screaming, almost stampeding" to get outside. The wounded walked around in a daze, she said.

                    One of the injured taken to a hospital was a white man. Many others cut by flying glass and other debris were not treated at hospitals.

                    Fourth in Four Weeks
                    It was the fourth bombing in four weeks in Birmingham, and the third since the current school desegregation crisis came to a boil Sept. 4.

                    Desegregation of schools in Birmingham, Mobile, and Tuskegee was finally brought about last Wednesday when President Kennedy federalized the National Guard. Some of the Guardsmen in Birmingham are still under Federal orders. Wallace said the ones he alerted today were units of the Guard "not now federalized."

                    The City of Birmingham has offered a $52,000 reward for the arrest of the bombers, and Wallace today offered another $5,000.

                    Dr. King Berates Wallace
                    But Dr. King wired Wallace that "the blood of four little children ... is on your hands. Your irresponsible and misguided actions have created in Birmingham and Alabama the atmosphere that has induced continued violence and now murder."

                    16th Street Baptist Church Bombing (1963)

                      16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

                      Chris Pruitt, November, 2011

                      On September 15, 1963, the congregation of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama greeted each other before the start of Sunday service. In the basement of the church, five young girls, two of them sisters, gathered in the ladies room in their best dresses, happily chatting about the first days of the new school year. It was Youth Day and excitement filled the air, they were going to take part in the Sunday adult service.   Just before 11 o'clock, instead of rising to begin prayers the congregation was knocked to the ground. As a bomb exploded under the steps of the church, they sought safety under the pews and shielded each other from falling debris. In the basement, 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and 11-year-old Cynthia Wesley were killed. Addie's sister Susan survived, but was permanently blinded.   In the moments after the explosion, questions hung in the air - 'Where is my loved one?' 'Are they ok?' 'How much longer can this violence last?' They did not ask if this was an accident, they knew that this was a bomb that had exploded as it had dozens of times before in "Bombingham."

                      16th Street Baptist Church interior after the bombing

                      Birmingham Public Library

                      The Aftermath Upon learning of the bombing at the Church, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. sent a telegram to Alabama Governor George Wallace, a staunch and vocal segregationist, stating bluntly: 'The blood of our little children is on your hands." The brutal attack and the deaths of the four little girls shocked the nation and drew international attention to the violent struggle for civil rights in Birmingham. Many whites were as outraged by the incident as blacks and offered services and condolences to the families. Over, 8,000 people attended the girls' funeral service at Reverend John Porter's Sixth Avenue Baptist Church.   The deaths of the four girls was followed two months later by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, causing an outpouring of national grief, galvanizing the civil rights movement and ensuring the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Why This Church? 16th Street Baptist was a large and prominent church located downtown, just blocks from Birmingham's commercial district and City Hall. Since its construction in 1911, the church had served as the centerpiece of the city's African American community, functioning as a meeting place, social center, and lecture hall. Because of its size, location, and importance to the community, the church served as headquarters for civil rights mass meetings and rallies in the early 1960s.   Birmingham was the most segregated city in the United States and in April 1963, after an invitation by Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth to come help desegregate Birmingham, the city became the focus of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The desegregation campaign conceived by Shuttleworth was known as "Project C" and was to be a series of nonviolent protests and boycotts.   Despite resistance from some of the church's leadership and members of the congregation, the 16th Street Baptist Church joined the SCLC in their campaign. The church became the departure point for many of the demonstrations that took place in the city. On May 2, 1963, students ranging in age from eight to eighteen gathered at the church to march downtown and talk to the new mayor about segregation. After leaving the church they were met by police and many were jailed. By the time the "Children's Crusade" and the ensuing demonstrations ended on May 10th, thousands of children and adults had been injured by fire hoses and attack dogs and incarcerated by order of "Bull" Connor, Commissioner of Public Safety.   The church came to be viewed by many as a symbol and a rallying place for civil rights activists; and it became the focal point for racial tensions and white hostility towards the civil rights movement in Birmingham.

                      Bomb-damaged home of Arthur Shores, September 5, 1963

                      Marion S. Trikosko, LOC,  LC-U9- 10409-18A

                      Why Now? Due to the success of the Birmingham Campaign, on May 10, 1963, the city agreed to desegregate lunch counters, restrooms, drinking fountains, and fitting rooms, to hire African Americans in stores as salesmen and clerks, and to release the jailed demonstrators. White segregationists opposed desegregation, however, and violence continued to plague the city.   On May 11th, a bomb destroyed the Gaston Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. had been staying and another damaged the house of King's brother, A. D. King. NAACP attorney Arthur Shores' house was fire bombed on August 20th and September 4th in retaliation for his attempts to help integrate the Birmingham public schools. On September 9th, President John F. Kennedy took control of the Alabama National Guard, which Governor Wallace was using to block court-ordered desegregation of public schools in Birmingham. Around that time Robert Chambliss, who would later be named as a suspect in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, foreshadowed the violence to come when he told his niece, "Just wait until Sunday morning and they'll beg us to let them segregate."

                      March sponsored by CORE in memory of the four little girls, 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., September 22, 1963

                      Thomas J. O'Halloran, LOC, LC-U9- 10515-6A

                      Eventual Justice The FBI office in Birmingham launched an immediate investigation. In a 1965 memo to J. Edgar Hoover, FBI agents named four men as primary suspects for the bombing - Thomas Blanton, Robert Chambliss, Bobby Frank Cherry, and Herman Cash. All four men were members of Birmingham's Cahaba River Group, a splinter group of the Eastview Klavern #13 chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Eastview Klavern #13 was considered one of the most violent groups in the South and was responsible for the 1961 attacks on the Freedom Riders at the Trailways bus station in Birmingham.   The investigation ended in 1968 with no indictments. According to the FBI, although they had identified the four suspects, witnesses were reluctant to talk and physical evidence was lacking. In addition, information from FBI surveillances was not admissible in court. Hoover chose not to approve arrests, stating, "The chance of prosecution in state or federal court is remote." Although Chambliss was convicted on an explosives charge, no charges were filed in the 1960s for the bombing of the church.   In 1971, Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley reopened the case, requesting evidence from the FBI and building trust with witnesses who had been reluctant to testify. Investigators discovered that, while the FBI had accumulated evidence against the bombers, under orders from Hoover they had not disclosed the evidence to county prosecutors. Robert Chambliss was convicted of murder on November 14, 1977; however, it would be decades before the other suspects were tried for their crimes. In 2000, the FBI assisted Alabama state authorities in bringing charges against the remaining suspects. On May 1, 2001, Thomas Blanton was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In 2002, Bobby Frank Cherry was convicted as well. His boasts that he was the one who planted the bomb next to the church wall helped send Cherry to prison for life. Herman Cash died in 1994 having never been prosecuted for the murders of the four girls.

                      Eulogy For The Young Victims Of The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing

                        **by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
                        September 18, 1963, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

                        [Delivered at funeral service for three of the children -
                        Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley - killed in the bombing.
                        A separate service was held for the fourth victim, Carole Robertson.]**

                        **This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God. They entered the stage of history just a few years ago, and in the brief years that they were privileged to act on this mortal stage, they played their parts exceedingly well. Now the curtain falls; they move through the exit; the drama of their earthly life comes to a close. They are now committed back to that eternity from which they came.

                        These children-unoffending, innocent, and beautiful-were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.

                        And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician [Audience:] (Yeah) who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats (Yeah) and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. (Speak) They have something to say to every Negro (Yeah) who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.

                        And so my friends, they did not die in vain. (Yeah) God still has a way of wringing good out of evil. (Oh yes) And history has proven over and over again that unmerited suffering is redemptive. The innocent blood of these little girls may well serve as a redemptive force (Yeah) that will bring new light to this dark city. (Yeah) The holy Scripture says, "A little child shall lead them." (Oh yeah) The death of these little children may lead our whole Southland (Yeah) from the low road of man's inhumanity to man to the high road of peace and brotherhood. (Yeah, Yes) These tragic deaths may lead our nation to substitute an aristocracy of character for an aristocracy of color. The spilled blood of these innocent girls may cause the whole citizenry of Birmingham (Yeah) to transform the negative extremes of a dark past into the positive extremes of a bright future. Indeed this tragic event may cause the white South to come to terms with its conscience. (Yeah)

                        And so I stand here to say this afternoon to all assembled here, that in spite of the darkness of this hour (Yeah Well), we must not despair. (Yeah, Well) We must not become bitter (Yeah, That's right), nor must we harbor the desire to retaliate with violence. No, we must not lose faith in our white brothers. (Yeah, Yes) Somehow we must believe that the most misguided among them can learn to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality.

                        May I now say a word to you, the members of the bereaved families? It is almost impossible to say anything that can console you at this difficult hour and remove the deep clouds of disappointment which are floating in your mental skies. But I hope you can find a little consolation from the universality of this experience. Death comes to every individual. There is an amazing democracy about death. It is not aristocracy for some of the people, but a democracy for all of the people. Kings die and beggars die; rich men and poor men die; old people die and young people die. Death comes to the innocent and it comes to the guilty. Death is the irreducible common denominator of all men.

                        I hope you can find some consolation from Christianity's affirmation that death is not the end. Death is not a period that ends the great sentence of life, but a comma that punctuates it to more lofty significance. Death is not a blind alley that leads the human race into a state of nothingness, but an open door which leads man into life eternal. Let this daring faith, this great invincible surmise, be your sustaining power during these trying days.

                        Now I say to you in conclusion, life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. (Yeah, Yes) Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chill of its winters. (Yeah) And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him (Yeah, Well), and that God is able (Yeah, Yes) to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.

                        And so today, you do not walk alone. You gave to this world wonderful children. [moans] They didn't live long lives, but they lived meaningful lives. (Well) Their lives were distressingly small in quantity, but glowingly large in quality. (Yeah) And no greater tribute can be paid to you as parents, and no greater epitaph can come to them as children, than where they died and what they were doing when they died. (Yeah) They did not die

                        in the dives and dens of Birmingham (Yeah, Well), nor did they die discussing and listening to filthy jokes. (Yeah) They died between the sacred walls of the church of God (Yeah, Yes), and they were discussing the eternal meaning (Yes) of love. This stands out as a beautiful, beautiful thing for all generations. (Yes) Shakespeare had Horatio to say some beautiful words as he stood over the dead body of Hamlet. And today, as I stand over the remains of these beautiful, darling girls, I paraphrase the words of Shakespeare: (Yeah, Well): Good night, sweet princesses. Good night, those who symbolize a new day. (Yeah, Yes) And may the flight of angels (That's right) take thee to thy eternal rest. God bless you.**