With tears rolling down her face, Lori Alhadeff looked into the CNN camera, screamed into a microphone and begged President Trump to do something about the nation’s deadly gun epidemic. As she shouted, “President Trump, please do something!” her powerful statement, her anger and her raw emotions brought me to tears. Watching her, I became her. I felt her feelings of overwhelming sadness. I wanted to hug that mother and tell her I understood her grief and anger. I wanted to shout alongside her. After all, regardless of where we live, we are all Parkland parents.
I am certain all mothers of teenagers who read the articles, watched the news reports and saw the social media posts on the Parkland shooting have felt every ounce of emotion that the community’s parents have experienced in the last week. We are parents who love our teenagers and send them to high school believing they are going home for dinner, just like Parkland parents believed. Had Nikolas Cruz attended our teen’s high school, the victim could have been our child.
Like the parents we see burying their children, we are horrified and numb. Like the Parkland parents whose surviving teenagers are traumatized, we are appalled at what they witnessed. This isn’t the first time for us, though. As parents, we have been here before. We have seen the faces on television of parents who lost children during other horrific school shootings.
But this time is different.
This time, a socially conscious, action-oriented generation of teenagers is determined to evoke change and ensure these 17 victims are remembered. With a social media campaign now known as #NeverAgain, these teenagers and student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are making plans and taking action. They are leading protest against gun violence in front of the White House. They are holding rallies to demand leaders make school safety a top priority. They have organized #MarchForOurLives, a national event to honor the victims of gun violence with action.
Politicians are offering them resources.
Celebrities are recognizing their efforts.
As a parent, I could not be prouder of these teenagers. They need our support in any way we can give it to them. Spread their messages on social media. Give to their fundraising campaigns. Show them love by marching alongside them and inspiring your teenager to participate in activities that draw attention to creating positive change toward school safety. And, continue to send prayers to those families of victims and those of survivors.
As they lead the way to change, let’s support those who are working to make a difference. We are all Parkland parents. We are all in pain and we all want desperately to believe in #NeverAgain.