by Katy Munger, 2016 Piedmont Laureate

Yesterday, in the midst of our acrimonious national election and the seeming collapse of civility everywhere, I sought refuge in the dignity and community of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame 2016 induction ceremony. Over a hundred people gathered on a perfect autumn afternoon at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines to watch as Clyde Edgerton, Margaret Maron, and the great Carl Sandburg were all inducted.

Leaders from North Carolina’s arts community were there, along with columnist J. Peder Zane, the inimitable Bland Simpson, and North Carolina Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson, among others. The common theme? How the arts brings us together. And, truly, yesterday they did. Political differences were forgotten. Our diverse backgrounds and lives bound us rather than keeping us apart. We were all in it together, as North Carolinians. It was a good feeling, one I had missed.

We are lucky to live in  this beautiful state, a state that treasures its writers and its people, in all of our diverse glory. I hope when this election is over, we can get back to being the North Carolina we deserve to be and can be again, one linked by our love for the state we live in, a respect for those who are different from us, and a focus on how we are all connected beneath those differences.

Thank you to everyone at Weymouth and the Literary Hall of fame who made today possible and reminded me that life is about being together. For those of you who could not be with us, I thought you might enjoy these photos, courtesy of Bob Witchger and author Kaye Wilkinson Barley: