On Saturday I marched, along with tens of thousands of students, parents, teachers and community members, in downtown Denver. We stood in solidarity against gun violence and for the return of school safety, school counselors, a better-funded mental health system, and a way of life that has bypassed an entire generation of post-Columbine children. Passionate speeches were delivered by adults, now in their 30s, who survived the Columbine shooting along with the father of a dead son and the daughter of a dead teacher; a Parkland student; survivors and loved ones of non-survivors of the Aurora theater shooting; current and former soldiers and police officers who attested that military assault rifles have no place in civilized society other than in the hands of those specifically charged with military or civil defense.
And then there were the nonverbal communications, the signs everywhere: A six-year-old holding a Day-Glo-lettered sign declaring “I am more fun than guns!”, a weary Montessori teacher taking a break with her sign on the next bench stating, “Arm Me With: Income Equality, Smaller Class Sizes, Time to Teach to the Whole Child, School Psychologists, A Caring Society.” A group of 13-to-16-year olds under a tree grew from four to about ten in the space it took to snap off a few photos (with a mom’s permission to print in this blog), each with signs ranging from “More Books, Less Bullets” and “GRADES not GRAVES” to the astute observation that “Girls Clothing In School Is More Regulated Than GUNS in America!” and the heartbreaking “New Town Same Story.”
The kids I spoke with enthusiastically stated that they will register to vote when they are old enough and that they consider voting not only their civic duty but a point of civic pride.
Everywhere there were voter registration canvassers and tables. Several said they were doing a brisk business registering 17-year-olds who will be 18 on or before the mid-term elections.
I left the march inspired, invigorated and determined to join the cause with my feet as soon as I possibly can and, in the meantime, to put my money where my feet aren’t. I’ve been a supporter for years, but the first thing I did when I got home was double my monthly donations to Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action, and I have committed an equal amount to the local nonprofits that work for gun reform in my own community.
Your turn! Did you participate in the marches directly or by bearing witness in another way? What can we do to make schools and neighborhoods safe from gun violence against chldren? Your thoughts are welcome in the comments section.