Before I sat down to write my article this week, Grandpa and I watched the evening news.

We enjoy the half hour update every night that seems to have a basic view of the world’s events and mostly an unbiased opinion from the newscasters. The original piece I was going to write about had to be put on the back burner, because I felt as a grandmother of several wonderful teenagers, I would be highly remiss not to mention the tragedy in Florida last week.

It was not too long ago that my own goddaughter was at the shooting in Las Vegas, and the same sick feeling came over me today. My beautiful girl was simply enjoying a concert with her boyfriend, when the only thing between her and a bullet was the bleachers they dove under to shield themselves from danger. I remember watching the news unable to reach her and thinking, “This happens to other people – not us.” But this time, it hit way too close to home.

I remained frantic until I could reach her in the morning. Physically unhurt, the process of healing from the chaos and bloodshed will remain with them for a long time. Me too. Something like this happening again so soon was unimaginable, but that was a pipe dream, I guess.

I will not get into a political repartee or share my thoughts on gun control, but I would like to use my voice and my heart to pay homage to those who lost their lives this week and their families.

For the most part, we are talking about children. Children being shot and killed for no reason other than they were at school. Heroic teachers shielded their students and gave their lives for the kids’ safety. The horror and sadness of it all came over me like a wave out of control in a raging ocean, and I found myself sobbing uncontrollably.

I watched kids from the age of 14 to 18 pleading for us grown-ups to do something to stop the madness and make them unafraid to simply just go to school.

In 1963, we had drills that prepared us for an attack. Bombs were a threat during the Cold War, and the Cuban Missile crisis was a real ‘clear and present danger.’ Now, our children are being taught how to protect themselves if someone is trying to shoot them in their own classrooms – that someone being possibly another child. Madness!

In the ‘60s, there were protests, marches and rallies over our concerns with war, but the war was in a country so far away that to us it might well have been on another planet. Now, this war is in our backyards, and the warriors are our children. 

I don’t know exactly what the answer is, but I do know that something has to be done. These kids broke my heart with their pleas to the adults that make the rules. Nobody should have to worry that their child who is headed off to school may not come home. It’s insane.

As I listened to the voices of the survivors grieving for their friends and classmates, I could not stop the tears. Each face of the students and teachers who were shot and killed and each additional victim fighting for life in the hospital made me realize this is not in a far-away country, and these people are not soldiers trained to help defend us but kids like yours and mine.

Whatever your views on the gun issue may be, we can certainly all agree that children should not have to pay with their lives for the lack of effort on the part of the adults who are supposed to protect them. Also, whatever your politics may be, put aside the partisanship and concentrate on the safety and well-being of our kids and grandkids. Nothing matters more, so listen to them, and speak up if there is anything that seems a little off.

As a grandparent, I for one am all ears when it comes to mine. Pray for those who are going through this in Florida.

Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with senior care and advocacy groups. Email her at marla2054@aol.com.

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