Youth Standing UP.

By Mikaela Luke-Currier

On Friday, October 20, three survivors from the Parkland Shooting came to speak at Burlington advocating for change in gun violence. Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and Alexander Wind all came to the Unitarian Church on a book tour for their recently published book Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement, written by the Parkland Shooting survivors. The book is written from their perspective as they tell their stories. The authors emphasized the importance of the book being written from just their experience, unedited by the press and people’s varying opinions.

The Parkland shooting happened February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. A gunman opened fire killing seventeen students and staff members and injuring seventeen others. During their talk about their experience of the tragedy and how it affected them, Hogg mentions this regarding her sister, "I didn't know what it was to feel another person's emotions, I'd never heard someone wail at the age of 14 because she lost four of her friends."

These young activists are standing up to gun violence and fighting for change. As youth, many of us are probably accustomed to being denied our views and opinions dismissed. But we still have a voice; a voice that needs to be heard. A point Emma Gonzalez made was that on that day they didn’t gain power; they realized they had it. In a situation so critical, our voice is most powerful. It’s our lives at stake, and as Wind put it, “We shouldn’t be normalizing lockdowns.”

These students are the creators of the March of our Lives movement. The group currently is working towards encouraging young people to vote to prevent gun violence. Even if you can’t vote right now, you still have the ability to create change. It’s our choice to be proactive or reactive. Youth voices don’t always have to be political. Hogg stated that, “We’re not anti or pro gun, we’re anti kids dying.”

Each individual is so powerful and can change the world we live in. These survivors didn’t let the Parkland shooting tragedy ruin their lives, they let it spark a movement, they took it, and told them never again. Never again would a kid die in a mass shooting, never again. Here’s a poem, written by two survivors, Lauren Hogg and Sam Deitsch, about their personal experience.

NOT ANOTHER NUMBER

Just another day,

Not another number,

Taking action to prevent another.

As we sit hand in hand,

We realize losing friends at school is hard to understand.

Just another day,

Not another number.

The booms in the hallways are not thunder.

Minute by minute we sit in the silence,

Wondering why we must endure this violence.

Continuously attempting to suppress our screams,

Realizing this is something we never could have imagined in the worst of our dreams.

Just another day,

Not another number.

As we run with our hands raised about our heads we begin to wonder,

What if not another?

We decided in that moment we could make this end,

and then maybe finally as a community, a country, a nation

we could begin to mend.

Not shocked at all it makes perfect sense,

our country’s “leaders” created this mess.

Rounds and rounds of ammunition,

register and vote to make a decision

As you make your way to the polls please don’t just vote red or blue,

but vote for our friends who will never get the chance to.  

  Image by Burlington Free Press

Image by Burlington Free Press