March for Our Lives, From the Eyes of a 15-Year-Old Girl
Change is coming. Hundreds of thousands of people are marching, hundreds of thousands of people are angry, and hundreds of thousands of people are sharing, spreading, and shouting the same message: Enough is enough. Parkland survivor David Hogg declared that we are the generation of mass shootings. And we are also going to be the generation to stop them.
Over the weekend, I had the privilege of attending the March for Our Lives sister event in Boston. As I made my way through the bundled up crowd in between short bursts of snow and rain, I took in the scene around me. There were signs of every shape, size, and color proclaiming the injustice and insanity of the issue. “Women’s bodies are more regulated than guns,” one exclaimed, while another called on Congress to “Protect kids, not guns.”
The speakers at the event shared painful anecdotes about gun violence in city neighborhoods, not only in Boston, but across the United States as well. After listening to the teachers, school administrators, and other activists who got up on the stage to share their own stories, I realized that while this movement was born out of a heartbreaking school tragedy in Florida, it is so much bigger than that. The scope of this issue is not just about gun violence in schools, but about the countless other massacres that happen every day at the hands of assault weapons intended for war.
The march was a powerful reminder of all of the like-minded people out there who believe in common sense gun laws, and who also believe that we have waited far too long to take simple steps to protect ourselves from senseless acts of violence. Our parents’ generation may not have been able to put a stop to this, but we will. There is strength in numbers and we have hundreds of thousands of people on our side from across the globe. On Saturday, protesters turned out in faraway places such as London, Edinburgh, and even parts of Japan, because they know that no other developed country has this problem. No other developed country loses 96 people per day because of guns.
This reality hit me all too hard on the way home from the march when my friends and I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts. Still wearing our protest shirts, a woman sitting inside caught our eye. She clapped for us, and as we walked over to her, she voiced her support for our decision to march. Gesturing to her Virginia Tech sweatshirt, she explained that her son, Ross, was one of the 32 victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. My heart leapt into my throat as I looked into the eyes of a mother plagued by loss, still wearing her son’s sweatshirt nearly 11 years after his death.
She smiled at us and told us how we were the future, and how proud she was that we were marching. In that emotion-filled moment, I put a face to the issue—the face of a mom who won’t ever get to see her son again—that I will never forget.
On Saturday, we marched for common sense gun laws that should have been passed 11 years ago. Gun laws that should have been passed after the first major school shooting. We cannot afford one more. We will not stop marching until there is significant action in Washington that will stop these violent crimes. We are the generation of change, and it is our future on the line. So, as Sam Fuentes said in her speech at the Washington DC march, “You can join us, or be on the side of history who prioritized their guns over the lives of others.”
By Julia Tilton, 15