One year ago today I woke up in a hotel room in Washington D.C. My sister had flown in from Michigan, I had driven down from New York and we rendezvoused in D.C. We got up early that chilly morning, had coffee, showered and dressed, then headed downstairs for breakfast. Dressed in winter layers and wearing comfy shoes, we stepped out into the sunny, crisp morning air and headed towards the March for Our Lives area. We were amazed by the crowd that kept growing the closer we got to Pennsylvania Avenue. We joined the thousands of incredibly diverse participants gathering to rally against school gun violence.
Unfortunately, we all know the impetus for this student-led demonstration. The February 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. Seventeen young students and teachers and an aftermath of anger and frustration for the survivors. Surviving students who should have been concerned with SAT scores and future colleges, instead decided they had to do something in response to the horror they had just witnessed. It started small, but with tremendous celebrity and corporate support, the rally in Washington D.C., as well as sister rallies in other locations, was organized.
All the speakers that brisk morning were high schoolers or younger. It amazed me that they had the steel composure and elegant poise to speak in front of such a massive crowd. Listening to Martin Luther King’s eldest granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King, brought tears to my eyes.
But I think the most powerful speaker that day was Emma Gonzalez. She spoke for just two minutes and then remained silent for four minutes and 20 seconds, before concluding her speech.
“Since the time that I came out here, it has been 6 minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting, and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”
Mine is not a political blog. I am not an expert on the issues surrounding gun regulations. There are political pundits and news commentators who you can listen to argue gun issues for hours if that’s your thing. But I am the grandmother of children in the public-school system. I am the mother of a public-school teacher. And this I do know. Gun violence should not be a political party issue.
It is outrageous that I am no longer shocked by a school shooting, I’m just profoundly sad. How can we say the children are our future, when our leaders can’t put aside their political banners and come together for our children’s safety? That too, makes me profoundly sad.