March 24th, and this is a culmination of 5 weeks of pain, 5 weeks of anger, 5 weeks of tireless planning, 5 weeks of being strong in the face of such devastating sorrow and heartbreak. March 24th is the day that we marched for our Lives #Marchforourlives.
I will confess upfront that my blog images are taken over more than 30 minutes but I wanted to get all of the images in. Please forgive me!
I have been pretty vocal on my feelings about yet another gun horror, yet another senseless shooting and yet another person dying at the hands of a shooter. Parkland’s is just 20 minutes from my home. Yesterday Amy and I made the decision to walk. We chose to walk at the site of the mass shooting, to represent and give our support to this hurting community.
The event was well organized. We drove to Florida Atlantic University to park our car and take a shuttle through to the park where the event would host speeches and the start of the walk. It was a first time for me riding on a school bus. We were dropped off as close to the park as the buses were allowed and we walked with the masses though the police entry point and onto the field.
Voter registration was in place, along with bottles of water and snack bars being handed out. Sunscreen was a necessity, and yours truly did not use it, and I now look like a raccoon.
Speeches were made and at times I cheered, and at times I cried. Students voiced their fears, frustrations, sorrow and anger. Parents shared their losses. One young girl who had been shot in the knee stood up to talk. My heart went out to her. Safety is needed for these children. Safety from guns. Safety when they are in the classrooms. It saddens me that children have to ask for bullet proof windows and doors. How did it get to this? How is it that our schools have effectively become their prisons?
In closing 17 students stood up and represented each person who had been murdered on that fateful February 14th Valentines Day shooting. Each one said “I walk for…..”. My heart breaks again as they say this.
And then the walk began. We were to walk 2 miles to the school. As I looked around, I was overwhelmed at the number of people who had attended the Parkland’s function, knowing full well that many had traveled to DC to march in Washington. People respectfully exited the field and waited until the 17 representatives lead the way ahead of the crowd.
The walk was well done. There were no difficult situations. There was chanting of slogans, there was #enoughisenough. There was a purpose to the march that joined us all together. I was proud to walk alongside Amy for this cause.
And suddenly there was quiet. There was respect. Each person walked passed the memorial silently honoring those who had died. For me, I had been there the previous week. I, in a previous blog, compared visiting the memorial site to a visit I made to Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. The moment overwhelmed me and it was hard to comprehend what had happened here. For Amy, this was a new moment which she said she felt haunted by. She had friends that had attended Margory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was hard for her to take all the emotions in.
And then we walked the 2 miles back to our original start, back to our bus, so that we could take the shuttle back to the car. I will confess, for someone who had foot surgery just 6 months ago, the 2 hours of standing through speeches, and the 5 miles of walking did takes it’s toll. My feet hurt and my body aches and my legs have started to seize up, but I would do it all again.
I, once again, commend these children for their courage, for their amazing words, for the willingness to take the lead on this issue. As I listened to Emma Gonzalez give her speech, I commend her for her courage. 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence. 6 minutes and 20 seconds that it took for the murderer to kill 17 people and injure another 15. One of them is still in hospital. In her words “Fight for your life before it is someone else’s job”. These children, should not have to do this, but I am so proud of them for taking a stand against the senseless slaughter of civilians in this country.
The USA that I came to love is more than this. It is more than the stockpiling of weapons. It is more than the NRA paying for the election of an official. It is more…..lets stand up and make it more. My prayers is that these children “Do not go gentle into that good night” (Dylan Thomas). My prayer is that they continue to fight. In November many of these students will be able to vote. They are registering to vote. I see change on the horizon, and the politicians really should be watching closely. The children have spoken in a way that no one expected. Now is the time for the politicians to be talking about gun control and putting parameters in place that require all purchase of guns to be subject to a 3 day waiting period, a background check that includes mental stability, a database that tracks the movement of guns, and the stockpiling of guns and ammunition by individuals. The March did not just happen in Parkland’s or Boca, or Delray or even DC, it is happening country wide. It is time to wake up.
I will leave you with the words that the children see each day as they leave school in the afternoon
Be the change
You wish to see in the world
Thank you for joining me for this month’s 30 Minutes in Life. These are my personal views and not that of the blog group. For the rest of the blog group, please take time to visit my friend and fellow blogger Liz Godfrey Photography and see what she has for you this month. Keep following the circle of photographers to see what the other photographers, from the US and around the world, have shared this month. Don’t forget to leave a little love on their pages.
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What a moving post Sharleen. I cannot fathom how the “right” to bear arms supercedes the right to freedom. I am so happy we chose to live in Australia where guns are indeed banned and I somehow feel the safest I have ever felt. Having moved from a violent country, growing up with guns, nothing good can come from this antiquated right.
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I am so with you Channon – life was not easy in South Africa, but I never worried about my kids at school.
This blog gave me Goosebumps… beautiful written and the photos tell a story. I’m glad to live in a country were we don’t have this kind of problems, no guns here. No shootings at schools and being worried all the time for the kids at school. I really hope the US gets a new law and no more guns.
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Thank you Chantal – I grew up in the 17th most violent country in the world and we did not have gun issues in school. I too hope that they do something to regulate the purchase and stockpiling of guns.
I had chills reading this post, Sharleen. It brought back memories of Sandy Hook Elementary school – only 30 minutes away from my daughter’s school at the time. I pulled off to the side of the road when I was driving and cried so many tears and felt absolutely sick — at the time I thought this is not normal, this cannot happen again and yet here we are – it saddens me that this has become what appears to be “normal” and it cannot go on like this, change needs to happen. Very moving post. xx
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It is not normal. Sandy Hook dropped me to my knees. I could not comprehend why nothing significant was done after those babies were killed. I can only encourage this kids to keep fighting for what they believe in. It is not normal for 17 people to be killed in a school.
Such a powerful post. Thank you documenting and sharing. This is how voices are heard.
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Thank you so much Jen. I hope the voices are. I am just a small fish in a big pond but I hope we see some change.