Jackson Gray | The Poly Post

The lingering impact of the Parkland shooting

By Jonathan Santiago, Feb. 14, 2023

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, became the scene of yet another school shooting in America on Feb. 14, 2018. Valentine’s Day, a beautiful and loving holiday, was turned into a day of horror as 17 students and faculty were murdered.

Although this tragedy took place across the country, it hit close to home. I was a Junior at San Gabriel High School at the time, and hearing about an event like this while being a student was a sickening feeling. I have been through countless lockdowns throughout my time as a student in America, and each time there is a lingering thought of “Is this the one?”

Each time one of these events occurs it serves as a reminder that we are unfortunately not safe no matter where we are. As we now know all too well, this is strictly an American issue that we deal with on a daily basis. Mass shootings have occurred in other countries, yet their politicians quickly look to resolve the issue by changing laws and policies. The lingering fear of being a victim of gun violence is too real for many of us.

Survivors of the Parkland shooting created a demonstration called March for Our Lives. This event culminated with a protest where thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2018.

Many schools across the nation also participated in this event, staging walkouts of their own. My high school held a walkout that I participated in. As all the students at my high school gathered, a group of student speakers named each of the 17 victims as we then held a moment of silence.

In that very moment, I realized how surreal everything was. It is crazy to think that I could be killed just for sitting in a classroom attempting to achieve an education like those victims. But somehow in all this darkness, it was inspiring to see “kids” of my own age using their voices to try and inspire change.

Jackson Gray | The Poly Post

Something has gone very wrong in our nation when we are turning to our children for answers. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, that is the way it must be, as this issue continues to arise again and again. One of the most prominent figures to come from this tragedy is David Hogg, who was a 17-year-old senior at Parkland when the tragedy occurred.

Hogg, now aged 22, continues to demand change in wake of the Parkland shooting. The event caused Hogg to become a gun control activist. He has accumulated over a million followers on Twitter and is one of the founding members of March for Our Lives in wake of the Parkland shooting

Looking back at this event five years later, so much has changed while so much remains the same. Many survivors of school shooting incidents have prominent voices across the nation as they strive for change. Yet not much has been done to prevent this issue as similar incidents have happened in the five years since Parkland.

How could it be that the most powerful and influential nation on Earth struggles with an issue such as school shootings? The impact of these events has had such a heavy impact on my generation and the future students of America.

Being wary of all exits when you enter a building is something that MY generation must deal with. Being aware of threats on social media is an issue that MY generation must deal with. Practicing active shooter drills is what MY generation must deal with.

This generation has been robbed of what a true education should be. We have grown up seeing many students just like us dying in the very desks we sit in. Blood on the same exact uniforms that we wear.

On the five-year anniversary of the Parkland tragedy, I hope to remind all my peers of the emotions that we felt that day. It is important that we reflect upon our experiences as student from kindergarten to this very day, and how lucky we are to have made it this far. This is the generation that has struggled with this issue the most, and this will be the generation to end it.

May the activists from Parkland continue to strive for great things such as ChangeTheRef and Never Again.

Feature image by Jackson Gray

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