Commentary: Helpless and hopeless for America’s future

Commentary: Helpless and hopeless for America’s  future
February 22
03:00 2018

On Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, hundreds of parents sent their children off to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, expecting them to return home safely in the afternoon. They didn’t expect to receive calls and text messages telling them there were shots being fired in their school and that they were locked in closets and classrooms.

I know what it’s like to receive a call like that. I received a similar one on April 16, 2007, from my son, who was locked in a classroom on the campus of Virginia Tech.

[Thirty-two students and teachers died after being gunned down on the campus of Blacksburg-based Virginia Tech.]

Thankfully, my son returned home safely. But for 17 families in Florida, their loved ones will never return home. And for countless others, they will be recovering from injuries and trauma, both physical and emotional, for weeks, months, maybe even years.

Every time I read or hear about another school shooting – there have been 290 since 2013, 18 this year alone – I flash back to that day when I received a call from my son: “I just wanted you to know I’m all right,” he said, “but a crazy person has shot 20 students.” My mind couldn’t process what he had just told me. I knew I had misunderstood him. Then I saw the news on television and my heart sank.

I remember the day I was volunteering to read to a group of kindergarten students when the announcement came on the intercom that an active shooter drill was taking place. I sat in stunned silence as the teacher locked the door and covered the window while the young children who had gathered at my feet sat in stony silence, not moving, until the drill was over. Is this the new reality for our children? Do they deserve to know about such violence at such a young age?

I grieve for the victims of this tragedy and their families, and pray for all the families that have been affected by school shootings everywhere. But my prayers feel empty because it just happens again and again. I feel helpless and hopeless for America’s future.

Judie Holcomb-Pack is editor and writer, For Seniors Only, a Chronicle Media Group publication.

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