On April 12, 1862, at 4:30 a.m., while stars littered the sky and most of the divided nation lie sleeping—a single shell soared high above Charles Harbor and exploded mid-air. The silent waters surrounding Fort Sumter burst to life, and with that single shot the Civil War began. At 2:30 p.m., April 13th, after raining 4000 shells on the fort, Major Robert Anderson surrendered.
Today, boats bombard the little island with tourists, carrying them from Patriots Point to Fort Sumter on daily tours. I first toured Fort Sumter in my early years. To be honest, I don’t remember much about our family visit to the fort. I do remember the gift shop, or rather the fact that my parents purchased me a few goodies at the gift shop; toy money –– I can still smell the bills when I imagine them –– and a small spiral back book consisting of many colorful pictures of the museum.
My mother took a picture of me on that trip, and that picture holds firm in my memory to this day. In this unforgettable capture, I am sitting on the tour boat, my mouth wide open, tears running down my face. I had been chewing gum and while there on the boat, lost one of my front bottom teeth. Oh, the agony! Oh, the pain! What a memory! One important point to make about this picture is that my mother had this memory made into a slide so it could be cast upon the wall. Lord only knows how many friends, family, and strangers she showed that picture. They laughed, I cried.