PARKLAND – As one person described it, Saturday’s rally and march in Parkland was like peeling back open a scab.
Survivors and victims’ families relive the pain of the Parkland mass school shooting. It never fades. When you hear them speak, the trauma endures, and that’s why they unite to march, seeking real change.
Late Saturday morning, more than a thousand people in Parkland united and marched.
Hundreds of signs held shared different texts. All were designed for the same purpose, to honor lives lost to gun violence while pushing for gun reform.
“Although four years have passed, there’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about what happened,” said Sari Kaufman, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Kaufman was a sophomore at the time of the shooting. The trauma lingers. The tragedy inspired the ‘March for Our Lives’ movement she helped lead in 2018.
“Four years later, do we feel let down by our elected officials,” asked Kaufman to the crowd.
The crowd responded, “Yes!”
The crowd echoes Kaufman’s sentiment, while some leaders on Capitol Hill fight to create the change they seek.
“What they don’t understand is how in Washington D.C., for some, it’s a partisan issue,” said Congressman Ted Deutch. “Because it’s not in the real world, where lives are at stake.”
Congressman Ted Deutch hopes the Senate will act as the house did recently in passing gun reform legislation.
One Parkland school shooting survivor, Carlos Rodriguez, channeled his pain into music. The 2019 MSD grad created the song Sunflowers Bleed, representing children killed by gun violence.
“We lost the one in the mirror,” he sings in his song. “Must be true now I see clearer. Sunflowers bleed like us to.”
“Music and art helped me look within,” said Rodriguez about his song and work. “It helped me understand myself as a person. It helped me understand the trauma and the pain.”
Rodriguez expresses pain through song. Others through the testimony of personal loss.
“It’s hard to be home,” said Debbi Hixon. “It’s hard to do the same things we did before because they just don’t feel the same.”
Hixon’s husband, Chris, the former Athletics Director at MSD and a Navy veteran, died trying to disarm the shooter.
“He survived the war but not a day a school,” said Hixon.
Chris was a navy veteran, trained in combat. And that’s why Debbie and others call for reform, believing only meaningful gun legislation passed by Congress will save lives.
“It isn’t to disrupt your right for the 2nd amendment to own a weapon,” added Hixon. “For me, it’s about responsible firearm ownership.”
“We should be angry,” added a recent high school grad, Olivia Joseph. “People in my age group are angry. We want other people to have opportunities and school to be a safe place.”
Joseph carried a sign: ‘I survived. Will you?’
She wants action.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz marched with Joseph and many others, supporting the push for reform on Capitol Hill.
“Republican party lives in fear of the gun lobby,” said Wasserman Schultz. “Lives in fear of the NRA. They don’t care about the loss of life.”
Schultz tells CBS4 she’s not optimistic about the senate passing legislation that made it through the house. But hopeful some of it will be adopted into law to begin the March toward change.