Hubby and I had just landed in Japan and caught a few hours of sleep when I realized it was Valentine’s Day back in the United States. I quickly logged on to hotel WiFi and wished my friends and colleagues in a group text a “Happy Valentine’s Day”. I made sure to add a few funny and snarky comments, such as how we unexpectedly and gloriously upgraded to business class for our 14 hour flight from LA to Osaka. The texts shared from the others were more of the same – wishes for a lovely “heart” day, etc.
Then came this text … “*Jane is in school where there is an active shooter happening right now.”
WHAT THE ______? My heart stopped. I reread the message at least five times before I responded. Took to CNN news and Twitter to discover, yes indeed, there was an active shooter and “Jane” was inside the school along with scores of other students.
Quickly I realized that my day of touring around the city Osaka, known for architecture, commerce and history, would be drastically altered because of a heinous crime thousands of miles away. I had to know she was OK. They were OK. I was in tears and feeling pretty helpless. They were dear friends and I wasn’t going to play tourist when we didn’t know if “Jane” was safe.
It was February 14, 2018 and the active shooting was at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. You would have to be living under a rock this past year not to know that this day was seminole on so many levels, including the way the students, parents and community responded in the aftermath.
In the end, “Jane” was on the survivor list. She saved lives by helping others to safety. She lived and helped others to do the same.
My friend, her family, their friends and their families now all mark time before and after this day. They lost loved ones in this tragedy and continue to ache in their hearts beyond measure. They are steadfast in not letting these young students and staff die in vain.
They are #MSDStrong
It is not lost on me that in the past 12 months thousands in the United States, and yes I said THOUSANDS, of adults, young adults, teens and children have died in their homes, schools and other venues due to crimes committed by guns. Now, before you spring to the comment section to tell me about gun rights, know that the debate over gun laws is not the focus of this blog. BUT… I am writing to ask for better education so we can all become part of the prevention process. I want all the “Janes” to feel that they can go to school, the mall, places of worship, concerts, etc. – without needing to figure out their exit plan in case “it” happens to them.
Sandy Hook Promise has offered a website full of information to identify and help be part of the solution to stop gun violence in our communities. Their KNOW THE SIGNS PROGRAM can be found here. It is worth your 5 minutes to read and share.
Please consider an extra few minutes to watch their videos.
I close with a request – If you are a parent, a teacher or a friend… be wise, be aware and learn how you can know the signs.
This Valentine’s blog is dedicated to those who lost their lives a year ago at MS Douglas HS and those who are the survivors and relive this tragedy every single day.
They will not be forgotten:
- Alyssa Alhadeff, age 14
- Scott Beigel, 35
- Martin Duque, 14
- Nicholas Dworet, 17
- Aaron Feis, 37
- Jaime Guttenberg, 14
- Chris Hixon, 49
- Luke Hoyer, 15
- Cara Loughran, 14
- Gina Montalto, 14
- Joaquin Oliver, 17
- Alaina Petty, 14
- Meadow Pollack, 18
- Helena Ramsay, 17
- Alex Schachter, 14
- Carmen Schentrup, 16
- Peter Wang, 15
*Jane is not the real name of the student, but used for anonymity.