Our Future Leaders are Here Today

Our Future Leaders are Here Today

By Siegrid Raible
On March 24, 2018 I joined hundreds of thousands of fellow New Yorkers of all ages – some too young to walk, some too old to walk and the rest of us somewhere in-between – all united in an effort to deliver the following message to our elected officials: “enough is enough.” The folks who put this rally/march together were high school students who in a little more than a month managed, with help, to organize marches in hundreds of cities in America and around the world. The catalyst: the St. Valentine’s Day massacre of seventeen students and high school staff at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The unfortunate truth is that in America there is a long history of gun violence; violence which has devastated way too many families and communities. I was sure that after the Sandy Hook Elementary School carnage in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 seven year olds and six educators were murdered, this nation’s leaders would move quickly to find ways to prevent future tragedies. But no action was taken. That was in 2012.

Five plus years after Newtown, after one too many mass murder events, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High decided that their loss would not become just another statistic. They took upon themselves the obligation to honor their friends’ lives – they chose to speak out; they organized and they began a movement to end gun violence. These privileged young people experienced the horror of a mass shooting but they are aware of the daily acts of gun violence experienced by those living in less advantaged cities and towns in this country.

Fifty years ago I attended similar events in an effort to end America’s involvement in an unpopular and questionable war; a war where 58,000 mostly young men were killed and thousands of Vietnamese lost their lives. Today’s demonstrators are engaged in a similar endeavor … they march for their lives … the right to a life longer than the sixteen or so years allotted to their friends.

The right to live your life secure in the belief that when you leave your home on any given day you will return safely is a concern of all Americans as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands who gathered in New York and Washington, D.C., as well as the many who showed up in large cities and small towns throughout America.

I am encouraged not only by those who showed up but by the number of volunteers at the New York march who armed with new voter applications spent their Saturday engaged in the act of enrolling first time voters. It may take time, more action and many more marches, but change will come because we must safeguard each person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, our shared beliefs embedded in our Declaration of Independence.

If we value human life, let us build our communities to sustain life. Let us honor all those who lost their lives to gun violence by joining together to eradicate this disease. Let us celebrate spring by renewing our commitment to non-violence.

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