Op-Ed: Parkland – One Year Later 

Photo Credit: Brendon Lies

It has been a year since our community was struck down in Parkland. Coming on the heels of Pulse, it shook our foundations, shocked our souls.

 How many more have to be lost before we stop the insanity?

I thought about how many things have happened since.

The students that were victims yesterday became world-recognized champions of social justice.

They have called for an end to gun violence and led a march on Washington that brought back the passion of peaceful protest to our nation’s capital.

They have changed laws in Tallahassee and captured the imagination of citizens across the globe.

The students of Parkland have not just led the resistance. They have started a revolution. It was not just a moment. They have ignited a movement.

SFGN has attempted to follow their passion and their protests. Their loss was our loss. These amazing students have risen up. In the era of future shock that we live in, their voices have been heard globally. It has taken them to places they never dreamed of.

One day, the students of Parkland were sheltering themselves from bullets. Months later, they were spreading a message of sanity to an insane world.

The students of Parkland will get to see America’s future unfold. They will shape our destiny, and with luck and energy, carve a swathe of peace and justice generations will emulate.

For me, I don’t think I can say more than I said a year ago. Here are my words back then, hoping they will never have to be written again:

How do you write again about a massacre and mass murder?How do you reconcile that this time it was not four hours away in Orlando but four miles away in Parkland?

When it’s inevitable that you know someone somewhere who has a friend or relative that has attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, how do you not feel the pain?

What you do, my friends, is you rise up, dust yourself off, and fight again. This time, this past week, we have seen a community of angry students do just that. They have not been silenced and quiet. They have stood up angrily, passionately, and politically.

The students of Stoneman Douglas are where we were in the hours and days after Pulse. They are saying this can’t happen here; that it can’t happen to us. But it did, and on a sunny weekday in February, their lives have changed forever. But they are fighting back.

 A wound that cannot forget is seared into their soul. A youth that was not fully explored was stolen from their lives. An anger and bewilderment that never should have entered their hearts is now a virus they can’t unshackle. But deal with it they must.

 Life can be unfair, and last week it most certainly was for the students of Parkland and Coral Springs. Words on our editorial pages cannot erase the pain, but only offer solace and grace to lives lost, families fractured, and loves shattered.

Of course any population of 4,000 students will have its share of LGBT brothers and sisters. We too feel the pain, absorb the loss and question why. Our community centers are open, our counselors are here, and where we can help, we will.

Assault weapons are for war, not for high schools. In 2017, a new president gave a tough inauguration speech asserting that the “carnage ends now.” But it has not, nor has he done much to tame the terror. He breast feeds in the bosom of the NRA.

It will fall upon this community and its neighbors to make a difference. SFGN joins with the school and its students in coming back from this terrible loss. There are no winners until the bloodshed ends.”

 There was a time, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s when universities were torn apart by violence. There was a day when colleges were getting blown up, and campuses were seized with struggles. 

America endured, time passed, and curriculums were restored. Reason won the day.

We live in a world today where incidents of mass shootings have become too routine, too acceptable, too repetitious. There will come a day in our lives when this chapter will close; when goodness and grace will be restored.

When it does, and it will, remember not only the students who have lost their lives from Newtown to Parkland, from Denver to Orlando, but the parents, the partners, and the protesters who stood up and said they will tolerate violence no more.

All we can do is our part to make the world a better place: safer today and more secure tomorrow. Find your path. Make a difference. Now is your time. Make the most of every moment.


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