Isaac Wright - black man, undertaker, Southerner - got up Tuesday morning as the first streaks of dawn surged on the day before he turned 63.
He looked toward the Rose Hill Cemetery that backs up to his house. A cemetery that is just feet away, yet has buried in it, nobody of his race.
Isaac - called "Ike" by so many friends black and white and there are far too many friends of both races to ever count - could see in the cemetery dawn the small, four-sided black iron markers that mark several dozen graves with the letters "CSA" on them, and the years 1861 and 1865.
CSA stands for Confederate States of America. He stood on the porch and saw the obelisk, the monument, that has been in his dawn each day. The monument was dedicated way back in 1906. On three sides of the monument were Confederate flags set into the ground.
"The monument to the Confederate dead," said Wright, of the obelisk.
Wright was very small, just a boy, when he asked his father what that monument was all about.
The big stone, so tall and strong and unpliable by wind and rain and snow and ice, that the Wrights looked at each day.
The father walked up there with the boy's hand in his, nervously because this was still in the days of segregation, some 50-plus years ago, and told his son it was about the Civil War.
A war that claimed more than 600,000 lives, and was fought over the enslavement of black people just like Isaac Wright.
"He didn't want to do it, but he did it," Wright said of his father's approaching that monument and telling his son about it. "How could I ever forget a thing like that?"
Tuesday morning in Charleston, in what looked to be comic book characters dressed in Confederate gray and Union blue, re-enactors shot cannons without shells at each other in some sort of grand game.
Commemoration, they say, to mark the start of the Civil War 150 years ago, to the exact minute. Re-enactors vied to see who got the most publicity, since they received no broken bones, crushed craniums or bullet wounds.
After that minute 150 years ago Tuesday, so many died. Yet it is unclear if any of those who re-enact the worst four years in American history will re-enact arms blown off.
A soldier named Jefferson Pettus, buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, was wounded at Gettysburg, where his left arm was blown off.
Wright spent last week watching, again, a Civil War documentary on PBS.
He didn't see the obelisk Tuesday. Some days he looks past it into this workday of making a living burying the dead in an economy so bad almost nobody Wright knows has $30 in his pocket.
In his 41 years in his funeral business, Wright buried two people, a man and a woman so many years ago, who had been born slaves.
Both were older than 110 when they died.
They were buried where blacks are buried, which is not behind Wright's home and business.
On one side of the monument so close to where Ike Wright lives and works and sleeps are the words:
"Of the soldiers tried and true, who bore the fate of a nation's trust, and fell in a cause though lost, still just and died for me and you."
It does come as a shock for anybody to read that any soldier fighting to defend a society based on slavery died for black Isaac Wright.
"I see that monument every day, but I don't look for it and don't see it sometimes," said Wright. "It's there, but it is not there. I take it with a grain of salt.
"I am an American. I am a Southerner. I am a man."
'Terrible waste of time'
One of the people who drove by that monument Tuesday morning to make a living was York Mayor Eddie Lee, a Winthrop University professor of Southern history and great friend of Isaac Wright.
Lee is a white man who has fought for equality for blacks, whose great-great-grandfather happened to be that man named Obidiah Hardin whose face was on the front page of The Herald on Sunday.
The Hardin who died in the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy, leaving a widow and five children.
Lee said the anniversary should be for reflection about the war, which was fought over property - and blacks were property then. For anyone to say the war was not about slavery, he said, is to deny plain truth.
"I teach my students, black and white, two basic truths about the Civil War," Lee said. "No state can secede. South Carolina seceded first and learned its lesson as did all the other states that seceded. Second, people cannot own other people."
Brother David Boone, a white Catholic civil rights activist in Rock Hill the past 60 years, did not notice the commemoration in Charleston Tuesday. He was too busy feeding the poor of all colors as he has six days a week for 25 years.
"A terrible waste of time," said Boone, of the commemoration about the "horrific" Civil War.
Not a single person Boone knows has brought up the anniversary of the war's start.
The Rev. Alvin Murdock, black pastor of Christ Deliverance Church who works another job to pay the bills, said he didn't know about the anniversary - and sure didn't think anyone would want to commemorate it.
"Who wants to honor what is the worst time in American history - the slavery of black people and the killing of so many people in a war because of it?" Murdock wondered aloud.
Nobody pumping gas with him Tuesday had an answer.
Elaine Copeland has no answer, either.
She is president of Clinton Junior College, founded in Rock Hill in 1894 to educate freed slaves. Clinton remains a citadel of hope.
Copeland's great-grandmother was born a slave, and was freed at age 6 in 1865. That woman, Susanna Massey Johnson, died when Copeland was 8, but not before she told young Elaine about slavery and emancipation and life as a free person.
"We teach about the Civil War in classes here at Clinton," Copeland said, "but we do not celebrate it."
Back in York, Isaac Wright put the Civil War and its start as bluntly as a man can: "It ended slavery. It's history. It is factual. It happened."
The commemoration of the start of a war, and that South Carolina started that war and sent so many young, proud, brave men off to die, might be distasteful, Wright said, but, "it doesn't bother me."
Then Isaac Wright went about his business.
The business of giving the people he serves a dignified final rest for their loved ones.
And the business of living life among countless friends of all races - giving them life with dignity, too.