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Marching for Our Lives

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Marching for Our Lives

By Sofia Ketels, Web Editor-In-Chief

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Yesterday, I marched alongside more than 800,000 people down Pennsylvania Avenue. Among us stood not only survivors turned advocates, but people who had never heard the sound of a bullet being fired from a gun, or had loved ones torn away from this world decades too soon. I saw people like me, who had seen far too many children declared dead on live television while they watched,  powerless and afraid, from their living rooms.

I marched today because any of those schools whose names will now live in infamy could have just as easily been Grosse Pointe North. I screamed the battle cries of Emma Gonzalez for all of the people shot dead in Chicago, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Miami, whose deaths will never make national news. I held a neon pink sign that read: “Your thoughts and prayers are not bulletproof” as a show of defiance to the politicians who have put silencers on both their guns and this movement for far too long.

Never again will we allow our voices to be suppressed by those who sit complacently while 96 people die every day from gun violence. We lined Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol Building to the White House yesterday so that no other children will ever have their lives ripped away from them in the same senseless and horrific fashion as children like Daniel Barden and Alyssa Alhadeff.

On my way from the airport to the hotel, I met Jessica. She’s from Florida and graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She told the people on the bus how surreal it felt to hear that her alma mater had been the site of yet another horrific massacre. It didn’t make sense. How could it have been there? At her home? Jessica has a sister who’s a senior at Douglas, and she is the reason Jessica marched.

This movement is just as much about the people behind it as it is about gun control. It was a movement by and for the students who have had their lives forever changed by gun violence, so that no one else will ever have to face that same trauma again.

This movement is about the girl I met standing in front of the Newseum. She’s a young freshman from North Carolina who sat on the sidewalk for close to an hour with her fine-tipped markers, perfecting her sign. We were standing shoulder to shoulder when Andra Day began the march by singing “Rise Up,” along with a children’s choir from Baltimore. Together, our eyes welled for the sight we saw before us. Little boys and girls up on that stage in their uniforms, singing their hearts out to support a cause they are hardly old enough to comprehend.

This movement is about Edna Chavez, a 17-year-old from South Los Angeles who lost her older brother to gun violence. This is so normalized in her community that the candles and teddy bears so often seen to honor the dead have become expected. This kind of gun violence never makes the front page, but its victims have been speaking out since long before the birth of this movement. Edna is a part of the Community Coalition, an organization dedicated to encouraging people to change their communities for the better. She credits them with encouraging her to tell her story and demand action from those in power.

Yesterday, we marched for change. The March for Our Lives is the largest student organized protest in the history of our nation, with over 800 sister protests taking place both across the country and around the world. Members of my generation are sick and tired of the senseless violence that is slowly becoming normalized throughout the country. No child should ever have to fear for their lives the moment they walk out of their homes. They should never have to practice and train for a potential active shooter situation in the schools, where they’re supposed to be learning everything from reading to calculus. Tragedies like Parkland, Sandy Hook and Columbine should never be allowed to happen again, and no one should be subjected to everyday gun violence in their own community. Yesterday, I marched because enough is enough.

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