Just shy of 24 years ago, I was on a stage giving the valedictory address to the first graduating class of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who attended all four years, but most of my words were not my own — it was a hodge-podge of wisdom lifted from scholars I thought had the answers.
What did I have to share as a 17-year old who lackedthe wisdom to make a statement that was meaningful? Hopeful? From the heart? This is my do-over.
Before returning to South Florida almost a decade ago, I lived in New England for 15 years, working in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
A colleague who worked for me lived and worked in Newtown. When I heard about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012, I immediately called him. I learned that his daughter had left the school the year before. Probably the first moment where I understood the full meaning of “relieved.”
I recently heard former President Obama describe children as having pieces of your heart running around outside of your body. I understand. I want to protect my children from this preventable scourge happening around us. School should be a sanctuary of learning and growth, not a refuge from bullets.
I’ve spent 20 years developing expertise in problem-solving applied to all aspects of simple and complex issues. But I am at a loss on where to start solving this problem.
One thing I am certain, is that it doesn’t start with thoughts and prayers. It starts with me and with you. I don’t have the answer, but I know it exists.
Almost every other country has figured this out.
I will not vote for any political candidate who accepts money from the NRA. I will not shop at any store that sells automatic weapons. I will hug my kids tightly and speak the truth. I will mourn for those who can no longer speak.
I will cry.
Class of 1994,