Listen to the Douglas students — they offer America hope

They’re fighting back with a weapon more powerful than guns: their voices.

By Dave Hyde

Sun Sentinel

Just listen to them. They’re remarkable.

They’re Ariana Ortega, at the funeral of her friend Alexander Schatcher, saying, “We’re here to make change. We don’t want another community going through this.”

They’re Christine Yared, writing an op-ed column in the New York Times under the headline “Don’t Let My Classmates’ Deaths Be in Vain.”

They’re Emma Gonzalez, saying at a rally, “The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call BS.”

They’re the surviving students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, and they’re not just grieving in the aftermath of 17 students and teachers being gunned down last week. They’re fighting back with a weapon more powerful than guns: their voices. Their strong, angry, always-on-message voices.

Just listen to them.

They’re Lyliah Skinner telling CNN, “If people can’t purchase marijuana or alcohol at the age of 18, why should they be given access to guns? I have had this conversation with my friends too many times. We shouldn’t have to talk about this. This country needs stricter laws to help prevent other kids, like me and my classmates, from ever having to experience this.”

They’re David Hogg saying on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” “How many more students are going to have to die, and have their blood spilled in American classrooms trying to make the world a better place, just because politicians refuse to take action?”

They’re Cameron Kasky, announcing on Fox News a “March for Our Lives” event on March 24: “At the end of the day, this isn’t about the red and the blue, the GOP and the Democrats. This is about adults and kids. And at this point, you’re either with us or against us. We’re giving all our politicians a clean slate. And in the next election, we’re saying if you accept money from the NRA, there’s a badge of shame on you. Because you’re enabling things like this to happen.”

They’re not just scarred by the shooting. They’re mobilized. They’re in your newspaper, on your phone, in America’s face. They’re the first survivors of a mass shooting to confront the country like this. The Columbine students had no history of mass shootings. The Sandy Hook students were too young.

They’re Morgan Williams tweeting in response to President Trump denouncing the FBI for spending too much time on Russia and missing this murderer: “Oh my god. 17 OF MY CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS ARE GONE AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT RUSSIA???!! HAVE A DAMN HEART. You can keep all of your fake and meaningless ‘thoughts and prayers.’”

They’re Sarah Chadwick tweeting after Sen. Marco Rubio said restricting assault weapon sales wouldn’t help: “Dear Marco Rubio, As a student who was inside the school while an active shooter was wreaking terror and havoc on my teachers and classmates with an AR-15, I would just like to say, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.”

They’re Eden Hebron, writing a poem: “We walked into class together and sat down/It was Valentine’s Day in our sweet Parkland town/We were laughing and doing our work, me and my best friend/But little did I know that 5 minutes later, her life would come to an end.”

These students are the adults in the room. They’re strong. They’re honest. They’re on point. They’re an army of tomorrow bringing change in a manner no one in this country has done.

They’re Delaney Tarr speaking at a rally, “Because of these gun laws, people that I know, people that I love, have died, and I will never be able to see them again.”

They’re Jaclyn Corin, saying, “We are doing this for the victims, to not let them die in vain.”

They’re Carly Novell, who put up a picture of her grandfather on Twitter and wrote: “This is my grandpa. When he was 12 years old, he hid in a closet while his family was murdered during the first mass shooting in America. Almost 70 years later, I also hid in a closet from a murderer. These events shouldn’t be repetitive. Something has to change.”

They’re the students of Douglas High. Just listen to them. Their voices are remarkable, and they offer something no one saw coming in the aftermath of this tragedy.