One year ago today, a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Parents and students, all of whom are still grappling with the devastating losses, shared their heartbreak for the world to see.
“Exactly one year ago, to the minute around 7 am, I sent two kids to school. Only my son Jesse came home,” Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime, wrote. “Jaime was murdered in school. I am forever haunted by my memory of that morning, rushing my kids out the door rather than getting one last minute. Did I say I love you?”
“It was not supposed to be the last time I would see Jaime,” he continued in another post. “For those who still want to deny the reality of gun violence, my daughter IS Jaime Guttenberg. I will be visiting her today at the cemetery. Jaime, I love you forever and miss you every second of every day.”
Guttenberg’s mother, Jennifer, also penned a heartbreaking essay for Newsweek about the pain of losing her daughter.
Exactly one year ago, to the minute at around 7am, I sent two kids to school. Only my son Jesse came home. Jaime was murdered in school. I am forever haunted by my memory of that morning, rushing my kids out the door rather than getting one last minute. Did I say I love you? pic.twitter.com/s2IQHvDIcU
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) February 14, 2019
Students also remembered their loved ones and recalled the horrors they felt.
Today marks one year since the shooting at MSD.
To the millions of people who watched the horror unfold from their homes,
Thank you for caring. Thank you for telling our story. Thank you for helping us show that Parkland is stronger than anyone who tries to ruin us.
— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) February 14, 2019
I took this last year of my friend Nick Dworet, a true living and breathing angel on earth. he radiated warmth and love every step he took. His dedication to swimming had always left me in awe. Remember Nick today & the rest of the 16. Remember Parkland today. pic.twitter.com/E8Y9wNLq2j
— Kyra Parrow (@longlivekcx) February 14, 2019
— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) February 14, 2019
One year ago, today, we unknowingly spent our last day with our loved ones. My heart aches.
— V✰⋆ (@17roseV) February 13, 2019
As demonstrated by their posts, the year following the horrific tragedy was a time for mourning and grief. But it was also a time for action, as parents and students organized, marched and appealed to politicians to value human lives more than political donations from the NRA so that no one else would have to suffer the pain caused by mass shootings, which occur almost daily in the United States, according to Vox.
Over the past year, the Parkland survivors encouraged lawmakers to sign 67 gun safety laws, including increased background check requirements, enforced waiting periods, bans on bump stocks and laws that make it significantly more difficult for domestic abusers to purchase firearms. Their stories inspired generations of voters during the midterms and even encouraged a new wave of politicians to run for office.
Even today, as they mourn the deaths of their friends, these parents and students are fighting to ban assault weapons, holding elected representatives responsible for their actions and inactions and writing bills to end the gun violence epidemic.
We’re not just advocating for bills, we’re WRITING them 💅👀 https://t.co/8j6JFPA5fF
— March For Our Lives (@AMarch4OurLives) February 7, 2019
Their work, however, is far from over. Today, lobbyists and politicians still advocate for concealed-carry reciprocity laws (meaning those with concealed-carry permits in one state could carry into another), allowing guns on campus and looser background check regulations.
These young activists need support so that no child will fear going to school or to the movie theater or to the grocery store or to church or to the dozens of other spaces made unsafe by gun violence. The time for thoughts and prayers is over; the time to join the Parkland families in pushing for change is now.