Going Back to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Stone Heart

On February 14, 2018, a former student took an AR-15 into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, sounded the fire alarm, and started shooting.  He killed three adult staff members that were trying to shield students from the attack.  14 students died before the shooter fled.  The shooter’s AR-15 jammed and it was later determined that there were many rounds still in the gun.  It was horrible, and it could have been worse.

Today is February 28, 2018.  I woke up to an interviewer from CNN talking to two students that were getting ready to go back to the high school today.  There were about 3,000 students returning for the first time since the attack.  Teachers and staff arrived early to encourage the students as they returned.  Police from Parkland and other nearby towns walked with the students.  The 19-year-old shooter is in jail facing 17 premeditated murder charges.   The funerals for the victims have been held.

The students being interviewed expressed fear of going back in, but they were determined to make this slaughter meaningful in getting changes to gun laws.  The Florida legislature has rejected legislation that would ban the sale of AR-15s, large capacity magazines, and tighten background checks.  The NRA had been on the job to assure that the legislators didn’t impede the gun sales that occur in Florida.  The shooter bought his AR-15, high capacity magazines, and ammunition legally.

I started writing Going Back to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High as soon as I had watched the first few minutes of the interview.  I watched the students arriving to gather in their classes that they were in before the shooting.  The classes were being held in another building because their original building was closed as a crime scene.  It was more than a crime scene.  It was a bloody killing ground.

Going Back to Marjory Stoneman High

Carly and Samantha stand outside their school
being interviewed by a visibly upset CNN reporter.
They are describing their first reentry
into a terrifying time and space.

They are following the path of others
that also went back to places of slaughter:
Columbine (13), Sandy Hook (27), San Bernardino (14),
Las Vegas (58), Sutherland Springs (26), Orlando (49)

Despite the death tolls, nothing much changed.
Politicians offered their prayers, but they didn’t do much else.
They took their cues from the NRA and like Judas,
they took the NRA’s money to betray the will of the people.

The hope of the students is that they can generate outrage
the will overpower the resistance of the politicians,
gun manufacturers and the NRA to making changes in
who can buy these guns and killing accessories.

Other students expressed their hope that the 17 from their
school did not die in vain.  Change must happen.
They are searching for a meaning to otherwise
bloody carnage staining the halls of their building.

The students didn’t have classes on this first day back.
Teachers, counselors, and students comforted each other
as best they could when they know that these losses are forever.
They are holding on to hope that something good will happen.

Those that have eyes, let them see that the only way to
overcome violence is to lessen the hatred and anger.
Those that have ears, let them hear the cries of the dead and living
to work for change that to make all of this a cause for change.

© Copyright 2018
Rev. Jim Hetzer

The list of the dead from the shootings are:

  • Alyssa Al Hadeff – 15 – student
  • Scott Beigel – 35 – teacher
  • Martin Duque – 14 – student
  • Nicholas Dworet – 17 – student
  • Aaron Feis – 37 – assistant coach, security guard
  • Jaime Guttenberg – 14 student
  • Chris Hixon – 49 – athletic director
  • Luke Hoyer – 15 – student
  • Cara Loughran – 14 – student
  • Gina Montalto – 14 – student
  • Joaquin Oliver – 17 – student
  • Alaina Petty – 14 – student
  • Meadow Pollack – 18 – student
  • Helena Ramsay – 17 – student
  • Alex Schachter – 14 – student
  • Carmen Schentrup – 16 – student
  • Peter Wang – 15 – student

You can learn more about each of the victims from the descriptions by CNN.


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