Instead of participating in the National School Walkout, the student leaders and faculty at my high school, Averill Park High School, decided to create an optional memorial service in our gym at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Highschool in Parkland, Florida. On March 14, the intended day of the nationwide walkout and my school’s memorial service, we had a snow day and students were unable to participate. So, it was moved to today, March 16.
As the clock turned 10, a few other students and I made our way down to the gymnasium where the service was being held. I was surprised to see such a large flood of people heading toward the gym, as my school is notoriously conservative Republican. I was really pleased to see the unity in my community after such a terrible tragedy, thinking people would put the politics aside and just pay their respects to the lives lost.
The names of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting were read in silence, messages of love and encouragement were written on stars, and banners were signed to show support for the school—there was NO mention of gun control, anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment, etc.
This was nothing more than a peaceful memorial in honor of the students and I thought everyone would come together, boy, was I sadly mistaken…I have never been more disgusted and embarrassed by some of the ignorance in my community than I was today.
Outside of the gym, students held “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” signs, and “You can’t take away my rights!” signs. A hall monitor even shouted, “Yeah! I love it!” to the counter-non-protesters. Mind you, this memorial was assembled by students at Averill Park and monitored by faculty to ensure it was a memorial and nothing else.
After crying during the 17 victims’ names being read in the gymnasium during a powerful moment of silence, I was greeted by these blatantly ignorant jerks to protest nothing but a memorial. It was a counter-protest to something that was not even a protest! Once I ignored them and walked silently back to my class, I was once again greeted by someone who stated they did not attend the MEMORIAL because they, “support our Constitution” and that they “should’ve gone to hold a flag with my buddies.”
I am American. I support, defend, and most importantly, STUDY my Constitution. Memorializing victims of one of the largest school shootings in American history is NOT a protest for increased gun control. This event simply paid respects and prayers to those slain in Parkland; not once was “This is why we need more gun control” spoken by any of the organizers or attendees.
I am shocked by the amount of ignorance and blatant disrespect of the students at Averill Park. Had this been a gun control rally, of course, an opposing protest is not only accepted, but encouraged.
Yes, what the flag and sign-bearing students were doing was indeed free speech, I’m not here to argue that. However, I believe that memorializing and paying respects and prayers to murdered children and faculty blurs the lines between Democrat and Republican. I’m quite sure that every sane person opposes school shootings, you don’t need to be a Democrat or a Republican! It’s not a matter of rights. It’s a matter of respect.
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