In 1987 I stood in the grounds of the Dachau Concentration Camp and looked over the grounds beyond the first row of detention barracks and my breath was taken away and I was overwhelmed with what I saw. Rows upon rows of concrete slabs filled the grounds in front of my eyes. And my soul wept and my heart cried out for the loss of untold lives.
Rarely since then have I felt that same lack of breath. That is, until last week when I finally felt that I could go down to the Margory Stoneman Douglas High School Memorial Site. This site sits alongside the fence of the school. Along one end children park their bicycles. Police control access in and out of the school and what you see takes your breath away. And once again my soul wept and my heart cried out for the loss of these 17 precious lives.
I have chosen to edit in black and white for a number of reasons. The flowers are all dead, and it detracts in the color images. I wanted these to be images that told a story that would never die, and lastly, this situation and the necessary changes are black and white for me. It is time to make changes to the gun laws in the USA.
Scott Beigel was 35 years old. A teacher new to Margory Stoneman Douglas High School. He coached and he counselled. He was a son, a brother and a fiance. He died trying to save his students.
Chris Hixon was 49 years old. He was the athletic coach and security monitor at Margory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was a husband and father to four. He died trying to protect his students.
Aaron Feis was 37 years old. He was the junior varsity athletic coach at Margory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was a husband and a father. He died shielding his students from the bullets.
Alaina Petty was 14 years old. She was a daughter and a sister. She was a vibrant young lady who loved to serve. She died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Meadow Pollack was 18 years old and a senior at Margory Stoneman Douglas High School. She had plans to attend university. She was a daughter and a sister. She died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Luke Hoyer was 15 years old. Just a freshman in school. He was a son and a brother. Luke was looking forward to his years in high school. He died in the Valentine’s Day shooting.
Alyssa Alhadeff was 14 years old. She was a daughter and sister. Alyssa loved to play soccer. Alyssa was the youngest victim of the Valentine’s Day shooting.
Martin Duque was 14 years old. He was a son and a brother. Martin was described as a funny yet sometimes quiet kid. He died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Jamie Guttenburg was 14 years old. She was a daughter and a sister. Jamie loved to dance and her favorite color was orange. She died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Gina Montalto was 14 years old. She was a daughter and a sister. Gina was part of the marching band winter guard. She was described as having a smile that lit up the room and a great sense of humor. She died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Cara Loughran was 14 years old. She was a daughter and a sister. Cara loved Irish dancing and the beach. She was described as a beautiful soul. She died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Nicholas Dworet was 17 years old. He was a son and a brother. Nicholas was the captain of the swim team at Margory Stoneman Douglas High School and wanted to swim in the 2020 Olympics in Toyko. He died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Helena Ramsey was 17 years old. She was a daughter and a sister. She is described as funny and intelligent. She told her friend to use a book to protect themselves from the bullets. Her friend survived, Helena did not. She died in the the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Carmen Schentrup was 16 years old. She was a daughter and a sister. She loved piano, learned German and was involved in a church youth group. She died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Joaquin Oliver was 17 years old. Born in Venezula, he moved to the USA when he was 3 years old. Joaquin had become a US citizen in 2017. He was an athlete and avid sports fan. I related closely to Joaquin, because we had been through the same process as him. Joaquin died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Alex Schachter was 14 years old. He was a son and a brother. Alex was part of the marching band and he played the trombone and the baritone. He wrote a poem called “Rollercoaster” for a class assignment. He did not know, when writing the poem, this would represent his future. Alex died in the Valentine’s Day Shooting.
Peter Wang was 15 years old. He was a son and a brother. He loved JROTC and had every intention of attending West Point Military Academy. Peter died helping his classmates escape the shooter.
What I have tried to do is put names to the memorials you see above. Below in the slide show you will see the scope of the outpouring of grief.
It was hard to stand there in front of all of these memories and comprehend how this happens in a First World Country like the USA. How over the past 17 years “mass” gun shootings have gone from one in 2001 to ten shootings in 2017. The escalation is beyond comprehension and the lack of response from elected officials is beyond comprehension.
Each time a senseless mass murder occurs, the answer has been trite and the first words out of the mouths of the politicians are “Now is not the time” to talk about gun control. But until they talk about gun control, these murders are going to continue, and families are going to be left shattered, just like they have at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Vegas, Orlando, Ft Lauderdale Airport, Parklands, and over 90 different mass shootings. It is time for government to step up and take ownership. Now is the time to start talking about gun control.
Today it was not my child, it was not my brother or sister, it was not my husband and it was not my father. Today it was not your child, nor was it your brother or sister, nor was it your spouse, or your parent, but it could have been. Would your stand change if Parkland’s happened to you?
On March 23, across the country the children will be part of the #marchforourlives movement. I will be joining them. I do not want to see another child, parent or loved one die in a senseless murder. I am all for stricter gun control, background checks, mental health checks, waiting periods, and registries that will track the guns movement and track who is stockpiling weapons.
Margory Stoneman Douglas High School has produced some intelligent, well versed and well spoken students, who have stood up in the whiplash of diatribe and they have stood strong. They know that they want change to happen and it looks like they are set to lead the push for this to happen. Sad that it is the children who will lead this change, and not the adults. I hope that they succeed in making the change. Later in the year we will get to vote. I know how I will be voting this year.
Thank you for joining me for this month’s Inspired by Life. Please note that this blog is my personal views and does not reflect the views of the blog group. This is a circle blog. Please take time to visit my fellow blogger Kym Heaton in Australia and see what she has for you this month. Keep following the circle to see what the other photographers have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their pages.
You can also find me on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Google+ and Viewbug.
Beautifully written Sharleen my heart feels sad for all those who have had to endure the pain of losing their loved ones
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Thank you so much Tracy. It is really hard to grapple with this.
Soul shattering indeed. Very hard to read and comprehend how such senseless and preventable tragedies are allowed to persist. Good on you for taking a strong anti gun stance. I stand with you.
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It is not necessarily a popular stand but I would have made it in SA as well. There was another school shooting yesterday. Not on the same level but a gun was taken into a school and 2 people got shot and the shooter is dead. It’s hard to comprehend.
Wow, such powerful imagery Sharleen! What a beautiful and emotional tribute to those who have died in this tragedy. Truly heartwrenching…. xo
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Thank you Kim. The loss to the community is palpable.
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It really is Melissa.
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