A steady rain woke me on June 11. I stretched and dropped my head back on my pillow. Rain meant my husband Mike and I would likely cancel plans to attend the March for Our Lives rally at City Hall, part of a nationwide event honoring victims of gun violence.
Secretly, I kind of hoped we’d cancel. Attending the rally was Mike’s idea, and though I supported the cause, I was hesitant. At 71, age was catching up with me. Rainy days made my arthritis worse than usual. I couldn’t stand in one place for a couple of hours, could I? Marches and protests were for younger people, right?
Besides, what if some lunatic with an assault rifle took pot shots at us? Gun violence infiltrates our schools, groceries and movie theaters these days, wouldn’t taking part in a public rally to protest lax gun laws make us easy targets?
I got up and looked for Mike. He was busy creating a poster for the rally. “Mike, do you think it’s going to rain all morning?” I thought this would lead to a way out. “No,” replied Mike, “The rain should stop within an hour. We’ll be fine.” So, I kept my thoughts to myself and worked on my own poster, attaching pictures of my five beautiful grandchildren. If for no other reason, I told myself, I should show up for them.
This year I volunteered at my grandchildren’s school. The fourth grade reading group I facilitated was bright and lively. The week Russia invaded Ukraine, the invasion was a topic of conversation among the kids. One young boy blurted out, “It’s going to cause WWIII and we’re all going to die!” My heart sank, and I quickly changed the subject. Children shouldn’t have to experience such deep worries at 10 years old … the same age as the students from Uvalde, Texas.
The worst hurt I experienced in school was the time a student-teacher in my third-grade class humiliated me in front of everyone for drawing pictures instead of being a good listener. I never had to worry about a crazy person with an assault weapon breaching my school and killing me and my classmates.
Deep down, I knew it was important to attend the rally. Mass murder is a threat to our society, just as real and deadly as cancer. I didn’t want one more child dying from gun violence. The sun came out as we reached the steps of city hall.
It wasn’t a huge crowd. Small but mighty. We listened to several impassioned speeches. The best speaker was a young lady entering middle school this fall. She told the group her first introduction to “active shooter” training at school was at age six. Six. Let that sink in. Kids can’t vote, but my guess is this young lady wishes she could.
Most of us in the crowd were gray headed. Like at church. Where were the young parents? I thought it over and realized most of them were busy with their kids on Saturday morning. Soccer practice, dance lessons, trips to the zoo. Living their lives.
Our Prime-Time generation may be getting older, but we’re still a huge co-hort. We can make a difference with our voices and our votes. In 2020, guns surpassed auto accidents for the first time as the leading cause of death in children, ages one to eighteen. Mass shootings are an issue we must address, and it shouldn’t be an issue aligned with one political party or the other. Let’s stand together and make a commitment to protect our most vulnerable population: our children.