This Valentine’s Day marks the second Parkland shooting anniversary of the tragic event that forever changed the lives of Parkland residents. It is the most solemn day in our community. Thus, family, friends and loved ones gather to grieve, comfort and uplift each other. It is a day of quiet remembrances and profound soul searching. We come together to commemorate the lives of the angels gained through the unforgettable day on February 14th, 2018.
Parkland Shooting Anniversary – Celebrating Love
In Parkland and other communities across south Florida, Valentine’s Day is marked with vigils, religious activities, and support services. On the day we celebrate love, we are brought to our knees instead to pray for peace and healing. We remember and honor the beautiful lives gone too soon. We take a moment, to reflect on the world around us to be the changes we seek.
Guardian Defense dedicates the month of February, especially Valentine’s Day to the 17 angels and their legacy. We participated in the 17-Day Celebration started by Liz Stout, an MSD senior at the time of the tragedy. For 17 days, we joined her and others around the world in honoring the victims by doing something they liked.
Furthermore, we honor the lives of the two students who survived the tragedy but passed away a year later from suicide as a suspected result of survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress. These 17+2 angels are gone but forever in our hearts. The Parkland community carries a piece of them in all the activism, fundraising and call-to-actions for safer schools.
Two years after the incident, our community is still reeling from the trauma of losing the 17 +2 lives cut short. “Strong” has turned into mantra. It is an integral characteristic of how the Parkland survivors and family cope and try to heal after such tragedy. This hymn is evident in all the hashtags on social media posts. It is written on signs in front lawns of houses, T-shirts, car bumper stickers and other mementos of grief. That strength is needed every day to rebuild and work towards effective change for school safety.
A Close-Knit Community
Parkland is well known for being a close-knit community. A vast majority of the residents are directly related to the victims, to the school or to someone that is. The agony, sense of personal loss and of a crushed reality is still vivid everyday. The survivors face the need to keep on going, while living with emotional turmoil and many lingering unanswered questions.
Many organizations subsequently began assisting the community with coping. They make it their mission in the wake of the tragedy to help the survivors. Others, channeled their losses towards activism for safer schools and communities.
Providing Schools with a Plan
Our company focuses on providing schools with a comprehensive plan to responding to threats on campus. Below are some organizations we want to highlight for the work and the awareness they bring to mental health and improving schools safety for our children.
|Eagles’Haven||NeverAgain||Safe Schools for Alex|
|Jewish Community Service of South Florida||Office of Safe Schools||ShineMSD|
|Mobolizing MSD Alumni||Parkland Cares||SOS Parkland|
|MSDStrong||Princess Meadow’s Playground||Stand With Parkland|
The survivors of the MSD incident need more attention more than ever. Many of the witnesses and survivors of that tragic day struggle with survivor’s guilt. Hence, they deal with many emotions and are more likely to feel depressed and isolated.
What Does Parkland Cares Do?
Parkland Cares is one of the non-profit organizations leading the way in mental health services in south Florida. It helps connect those individuals affected by the violent incident to long-term counseling resources. The organization provides trained trauma therapists and therapy groups for people to get the counseling they need at little, to no cost.
Providing Trauma Care and Long-Term Mental Health
If you or your loved ones are feeling the weight of living through this tragedy, we encourage you to seek help! Parkland Cares provides trauma care and long-term mental health services to the students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, to the parents, and the community-at-large. We encourage you to share all these resources shared in the table above with those you know struggling in this community.
Love Never Dies
The inability to celebrate life’s milestones with the victims who were close to graduating high school, going to college and had so much to live for hurts deeper than many of us could ever understand.
Their lives were cut short but their love lives on forever.
Similarly, our love for them still grows and thrives within us.
Acknowledging Parents, Spouses, Siblings, Children, Family and Friends
As we commemorate the lives of these 17+2 victims, we pause to acknowledge their grieving parents, spouses, siblings, children, family and friends who miss them terribly.
We offer them our compassion and love as they navigate through the healing process.
We understand that just as parents of living children love them unconditionally and forever, so do bereaved parents.
It is a love that will never die, one that grows beyond the grave.