I never really liked Valentine’s Day, you know, a holiday in which people gave cheesy cards to each other and went out for romantic dinners. All of that changed when I heard the news, there was a profound change in the way I thought of that day. February 14th was no longer a cheesy holiday, but a day which I would remember forever etched in my memory and heart. Exactly one year today we lost 17 beautiful, wonderful lives were cut short. 17 people who meant the world to someone, who were parents, children, friends, and colleagues. 17 people who did nothing to deserve the fate that followed. 17 people who were just going to school on a typical day but didn’t return home.
17 people were hopeful, who had dreams and ambitions, who were going fighting their own internal demons successfully, and people who were trying really hard to make someone proud even though everyone was already proud of them. Some people I knew through extracurricular activities and some who I met through other people.
I have heard people say that you don’t know what it is like, I mean I wasn’t even living in the same country. I may not know what it is like to have a gunman come and shoot down your school, but I do know what it is like to lose someone you love to gun violence.
I remember trying to reach my friend after the shooting. I remember calling everyone at 5 am to make sure they were okay. I remember skipping school to wait anxiously for a reply. And then I remember not getting a response, but instead an invitation to the funeral gofundme page.
Scott Beigel, who was a geography teacher that was beloved by every student in the school
Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and a security guard who made everyone’s day
Chris Hixon, the school’s athletic director who helped many people find their love and passion for sports
Peter Wang, who was a proud member of the JROTC always lending a helping hand to anyone and everyone
Alyssa Alhadeff was the captain for a local soccer team where she was a leader who treated everyone equally and listened to everyone’s ideas
Martin Duque Anguiano, a freshman who was a hilarious, outgoing kid who was a friend for anyone in need
Nicholas Dworet, a high school student who was a promising swimmer who completely changed himself to become the person he was that day
Jaime Gutenberg, a freshmen dancer who was warm and took in people no matter who they are
Luke Hoyer, a baseball player who was really ambitious about the sport and admired many NBA starts, now people admire him
Cara Loughran, a freshman who loved the beach and made people happy by just being a happy girl
Gina Montalto, a freshman who was a praised member of the winter color guard and was an inspiration for many aspiring color guard participants
Joaquin Oliver, whose nickname was Guac and loved to write beautiful and expressive poetry while loving to play basketball
Alaina Petty, a freshman who loved to volunteer and help people out always ready to help no matter the circumstances she was in, never saying no to whatever was asked of her and always delivered on her promises
Meadow Pollack, a senior who was set to go to Lynn University, a girl who was strong-willed and an unbelievable amazing girl
Helena Ramsay was a smart, kind-hearted, and thoughtful human being although reserved she was entirely motivated to be the best she can
Alex Schachter, who played the trombone in the Stoneman Douglass marching band who just wanted to well in school and make his parents proud
Carmen Schentrup, a senior who was a national merit scholarship finalist, a smart soul who was a best friend so many people who was loved by many people and loved many people in return, she was someone who was a kind and beautiful person
These people did not die in vain, and I hope that these beautiful lives lost will cause change. This was a devastating event, and it is absolutely horrifying that something like this happened in our backyard and some people who were affected by this.
My prayers go out to all of those families who lost people, and I hope this changes something. This is not just a memoir to remember what happened, this is my cry for change as this is not an issue to be taken lightly. This is my way of paying respect to the 17 people who lost their lives. This is my way of making sure their story lives on.