This Memorial Day is going to feel different for many Americans. It is usually a day set aside to honor the service men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in fighting for our nation’s freedom. Over the years, we have expanded this muted celebration to our family members and friends. It is a chance for us to remember the people we love and miss every day.
This year, dozens of American families, and millions of us who feel for them, will be experiencing the fresh pain of loss – this time at the hands of fellow Americans. From Buffalo to Uvalde, families will be gathering at the graves of family members taken from them by madmen who legally purchased guns for no reason other than to kill and harm as many of their fellow Americans as possible. They targeted children and senior citizens and bragged about their upcoming evil exploits on social media. They planned their crimes in plain sight, and no one stopped them.
These recent murderous rampages are not that uncommon. There have been over two hundred mass shootings in the two decades following the Columbine shooting, over 550 children, educators, and school staff have been victims of school shootings. During that period, 311,000 children have been exposed to gun violence at school that has touched every state in the union. Clearly this crisis is on the rise and continues to plague our nation.
It is easy at times like this to say “we have no words”. That is unacceptable. We need words, we need voices…we need leaders to stand up to this violence and say enough is enough. We need to quickly pass laws that will prevent incidents like the ones in Buffalo and Uvalde from repeating themselves. And we need to elect leaders that will fight like hell to protect our children from harm’s way. I was proud to see how my Congresswoman, Mary Gay Scanlon, responded to the Uvalde massacre, and have included a link to her update as an example of some small steps that can be taken right away.
This Memorial Day, pray for the families of all the mass shooting victims in our nation. And pledge to honor them by working for change. Below are some practical ways you can do this:
Contribute financially to the victims of the most recent tragedies through organization such as BuffaloTogether Community Response Fund and Uvalde Strong Fund and Uvalde Strong Survivors Fund.
Educate yourself about the topic of gun violence in schools to be able to acknowledge and address your own emotional responses in order to best support young people. There are many resources out there, but here is one that is particularly useful.