Those 14 students and three educators who died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre have been laid to rest and will forever be mourned by their loved ones and many more who never knew them.
Those who survived bear emotional scars. And the schools’ thousands of students who have risen up with a resolve to challenge and change America’s fascination with guns and assault rifles, have a noble goal and a Herculean public task before them.
But in between those who died and those who lived and could walk, or run, from the scene, are those who still are recovering from the vicious wounds of an AR-15. In some cases, the injured are still fighting for their lives.
There was this sudden reminder when, on Thursday one of those 16 students, Anthony Borges, 15, took a turn for the worse and was moved back into intensive care at Broward Health. The teen was shot five times and is still fighting for his life more than three weeks after the attack.
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Borges has been described as a hero of the Parkland shooting. He has undergone multiple surgeries and is now dealing with a possible abdominal infection. Doctors operated twice in the past few days, cutting a section of the small intestine to stop the infection, his father wrote on Facebook.
Reports are that Borges, a school athlete, used his body to block a classroom door, saving other students’ lives. He was among the most seriously wounded by Nikolas Cruz, the former student who opened fire at the school on Feb. 14.
Borges is not alone in that injured group of 16 students and one English teacher who had angels on their shoulders the day Cruz came out shooting.
The survivors had been all but anonymous until Wednesday, when Cruz was officially charged in a Broward County courtroom with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for wounding not just Borges, but also classmates Ashley Baez; William Olson; Kheshava Managapuram; Justin Colton; Alexander Dworet; Genesis Valentin; Daniela Menescal; Samantha Grady; Samantha Fuentes; Isabel Chequer; Samantha Mayor; Benjamin Wikander; Madeleine Wilford; Marian Kabachenko; and Kyle Laman; in addition to English teacher Stacey Lippel.
One survivor has spoken out. Fuentes, a senior, carries the visible scars of that horrible day. She has a black eye from diving for cover, she also has shrapnel lodged behind her left eye and cheek. She also has a bullet wound and more shrapnel embedded near both her knees — shrapnel that came as other students around her took bullets.
Fuentes has told reporters her high school experience is over and so is her sense of life as usual: “There is no such thing as ‘normal’ anymore,” she told CNN.
That’s probably the sentiment of the 16 other wounded survivors. The Broward school district must monitor these students, even if their relationship becomes adversarial. Borges’ parents were the first to announce plans this week to sue the school district. Others will likely follow.
In the meantime, these have been the least visible of Cruz’s victims. Let them not be forgotten as they confront recovering from their physical and psychological wounds.