It’s been five days since the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting took place in Parkland, Florida. Eight of the victims were girls and young women; nine were boys and men. They ranged from 14 years old to 49.
I spent Sunday with my own 23 year old son cooking brunch, catching up, drinking coffee by the fire, and working on a fun project together. Normal stuff. Things we do together often, memories I savor, and something I don’t ever take for granted. In all honesty, it was the Columbine shooting here in Colorado that made me realize shootings really do happen. Close to home. And your children could leave for school, and never come home again because of someone’s decision. Since the Columbine incident in 1999, there have been at least eleven more public shootings in Colorado.
I cannot fathom what the parents, siblings, wives, children, families and friends of the victims are experiencing, or how you ever move forward when grieving such incredible losses. Unnecessary and unexpected losses no-one ever thinks they’ll encounter in their lifetime. I am so incredibly sorry for these losses, and I truly don’t know what to say. It’s incomprehensible to me, and most of the world, these high school and other mass shootings keep happening. Year after year. Becoming more frequent, and seemingly more severe.
The writing prompt is courage. Dan Rather asked the questions (listed below) after the shooting. My question: Do we, as a very divided nation, have the courage to actually sit down and think through viable solutions then answer and act on these questions? To truly do something about this? How many more unnecessary deaths will it take?
Will this time be different?
Will there be marches in the streets?
Will a silent majority of Americans rise up and confront those who offer bromides in the face of bloodshed and excuses in the face of the inexcusable?
Will there be a new movement of parents, teachers, and children – especially children – arguing that our schools not be a place for Russian Roulette?
And if such a movement does materialize what might the elected officials bolstered by the NRA say?
Will the response still be there is nothing we can do?
Will they continue to say now is not the time to politicize this issue?
And if there is a groundswell of activists this time, and the answers they get are the same ones they always get, will the response be loud enough to finally break this circular dynamic?
Will there be retribution at the ballot box?
When did all this become the American way?
New York Times NYT recently wrote an article about the 17 shooting victims (pictured above). Do we as a nation have the courage to somehow figure out how to STOP these killings? Or will these lists of names, memories, and pictures just continue to be the norm?
Scott Beigel, age 35. “…some of the victims, like Mr.Beigel, were remembered for having tried to spare others in the moments of chaos that unfolded inside the school.”
Alyssa Alhadeff, age 14. “…when her club, Parkland, faced off against the rival team from Coral Springs on Feb. 13, she was at the top of her game.”
Martin Duque Anguiano, age 14. “…“He was sweet and caring and loved by all his family,” Miguel wrote. “Most of all he was my baby brother.”
Nicholas Dworet, age 17. “The saddest thing to me is how much life this kid had and how hard he had worked to change directions and change paths,” Mr. Hite said. “He was really going in the right direction and he had really created some opportunities for himself.”
Aaron Feis, age 37. “Austin Lazar, a student, recalled his former coach as cheery and selfless. “He always put everybody before himself.”
Jaime Guttenberg, age 14. “Her father, Fred Guttenberg, posted this on Facebook: “I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family gets through this.”
Christopher Hixon, age 49. “…a great coach and an awesome motivator.”
Luke Hoyer, age 15. “…He had a huge heart.”
Cara Loughran, age 14. “We are absolutely gutted,” by her death, her aunt, Lindsay Fontana, wrote. “While your thoughts are appreciated, I beg you to DO SOMETHING. This should not have happened to our niece Cara and it cannot happen to other people’s families.”
Gina Montalto, age 14. “…We lost a beautiful soul tonight.”
Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, age 17. “He played basketball in the city recreational league — his jersey number was 2 — and he loved to write, filling a notebook with poetry,” said Julien Decoste.
Alaina Petty, age 14. “Her selfless service brought peace and joy to those that had lost everything during the storm.” (Hurricane Irma)
Meadow Pollack, age 18. “She was a very strong-willed young girl who had everything going for her.”
Helena Ramsay, age 17. “…was smart, kindhearted and thoughtful.”
Alex Schachter, age 14. “…Alex had loved his mother, who died when he was five years old.”
Carmen Schentrup, age 16. “…the smartest 16-year-old…”
Peter Wang, age 15. “He was the kid in school who would be friends with anyone. He didn’t care about popularity.”