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Remembering Parkland This Valentine’s Day

We must remember. February 14th, 2018, what should have been a run of the mill Valentine’s Day, was not. For Marjory Stoneman Douglas, in Parkland Florida, a day that was meant to be filled with love and joy was filled with tears and bloodshed.

It was on this day, one year ago, that gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire on the students in the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. We must remember the 17 lives that were lost on that dreadful day (see image below) and the many others impacted. We must remember the pain and suffering. We must remember the actions that rose from that atrocity. We must remember and be brave, for it is imperative to ensure that gun violence in schools never happens again.

(Photo Courtesy of KSAT)

I will always remember this day because I am haunted. I was born and raised in South Florida, and though I did not attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas I had many friends who did. As I walked through the Furman University Bookstore my gaze landed upon the TV. My heart dropped to my stomach as I watched clips flash across the screen. I was blindsided and couldn’t fully process what the TV was telling me. Hands shaking, I reached for my phone to call my best friend, Chris who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas the previous year. His brother Zach still attends the high school.

After a few frantic attempts I got Chris on the phone, he told me his brother had the flu and was not there that day. A flood of relief rushed over me, that was until he mentioned that his close family friend was missing. That family friend was 14-year-old Martin Duque. Martin was one of the 17 people killed in what became the deadliest shooting at a high school in United States history.

Since the shooting, legislative measures have been taken in an attempt for greater safety measures.  In the state of Florida, the  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act changed the minimum age for buying a firearm from 17 to 21, banned bump stocks, and instituted a waiting period for firearm purchases. On the Federal level the STOP School Violence Act was passed in order to allow heightened security measures to be put in place at schools.

Though there were both statewide legal changes and federal changes, the measure taken received pushback from both sides. The day that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act was signed in to law, the NRA filed lawsuit against the new Florida law. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas did not find the STOP School Violence Act as sufficient means of protection.

The violence that occurred shook awake another wave of passionate activism. The students rose to the occasion, not out of desire but out of desperation. Emma González survived the Parkland shooting and is now one of the main faces of gun activism today. She and other Marjory Stoneman Douglas students took initiative by founding the March for Our Lives Campaign. Activist campaigns such as March for Our Lives allow for the voices of many to combine into one.

So today, I want to urge you first to tell someone you love them. It is Valentine’s Day after all. Love should be an everyday theme and not just one on Valentine’s Day. Most importantly, I ask you all to not only remember the 17 lives that were lost on that dreadful day, but also to act. Act in such a way that you positively impact this world. There are many reasons to act and the events that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas is one of my reasons to do so. 

Sarah Rinker

Furman '20

Sarah Rinker is a writer for Her Campus at Furman University. She is a Senior, Division I soccer player, Communication Studies and Philosophy double major at Furman University. As a research fellow, Sarah conducted philosophical research on race and racism. When not on the soccer field or in the library, Sarah can be found playing video games on her Nintendo Switch and PS4, reading up on concepts of design thinking, and doing yoga.
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