Six Weeks After The Tragedy at Douglas High - Many Are Committed To Change
By Larry Blustein
“Never Again” has become the slogan that has fueled those who vividly remember the tragedy on Valentine’s Day.
The senseless death of 14 students, a beloved football coach, athletic director and teacher. Parents, friends and survivors who frankly had enough - and have been all over the country and on every media outlet available - to spread the word that this cannot - and will not - happen again.
As school was back in session on Monday from spring break, the six weeks since that life-altering, and in many cases, life-changing day, the wheels have finally been put in motion, and thanks to those young voices who have kept this issue on the front burner.
But even as those faces have been paraded across TV screens and media outlets, many felt that when that fresh hurt and pain in their stomach and mind wore off, and the negatives and the opposition became too much, that zest and passion to make changes would begin to diminish - slowly and methodically - but certainly will happen.
“I hurt for those students who went through this, and I am in the 12th grade, and it could happen to me - any day - but the reality is that when the cameras are gone and the rejections from those major companies continue to come in, things will temper,” Ari Miller said. “Being 17, I may not have a grasp on everything, but I can understand how you sometimes get tired of people mocking something so serious.”
Indeed, while gun control is such a major topic, telling adults that they cannot own a weapon, is something that will never happen. What many of the students have been protesting nationally is doing away with guns, which has not won them any new fans. That is where students like Miller and Hollywood 10th grader Anne-Marie Wallis believe there will always be separation.
“Do I go to school and think that one day this will happen to me? Yes, but you learn that instead of fighting all the time, you have to make concessions,” Wallis pointed out. “In my case, I would love for every gun to be off the streets, but that is NOT a reality in any of our lifetimes.”
Wallis, like some, feels that instead of re-writing every law, you change things that can be changed - without a lot of finger pointing and name calling. With the help and understanding of Governor Scott - age and the implementation of universal background checks have been put in motion.
“What Governor Scott did was a huge step - and I am sure he took some risks as he seeks a new position soon,” Willis said. “But in order to make change, you have to start somewhere, and this is certainly a great place to begin.”
As many of the protestors seem to talk about banning guns - which falls on plenty of deaf ears - there are others who understand that no matter what you feel - and this debate will go on for the next century - something needs to be done right now.
The father of one of the students killed, Andrew Pollack, who has been at the center of wanting to know all the answers why this keeps happening, will not let the memory of his daughter, Meadow, be wasted.
Instead of hammering the gun issue, he has been a major advocate of securing the schools - which Douglas has started to do - with extra active police presence and clear backpacks and lunch bags.
“We need to secure our schools,” Andrew Pollack has maintained ever since his meeting with President Trump, in the days after the shooting. “We are not going to control guns anywhere in the future, but we can make sure that the buildings where our children go to school, are totally safe.”
In the six weeks since that tragedy in Parkland, there have been enough support groups and those who have plenty of passion. Now, after all the threats have been made and appearances on all those shows have been done - it is time to work on the present, which will allow our students to feel safe in the classroom, and in the end, that is what is paramount!