Stan Gerding writes to his grandson about the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the gun control movement further stoked by it.
I had been in the middle of writing my first letter to you, Grandson, but then all this stuff that’s been in the news about school shootings … I thought I would just take a little time to ponder over these happenings.
The shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, really got to me, and it got to a lot of people, especially young people. I am so proud of the young people in this country who have pulled together in solidarity and formed a coalition to protest for new gun laws. The national school walkout was some kind of scene. It was great and meaningful and really put Congress to task: “Get new gun laws or be voted out.” I heard a lot of skeptics out there who really put the kids down and there was no reason for that. Those kids have a voice and will always have a voice and they will make a difference.
I think back on the days when I was a kid and going to school. I walked to school alone, all of us kids did, and we, plus our parents, thought nothing of it. We weren’t worried or concerned about being kidnapped or whatever. Most assuredly, we were not worried when we got to school. We went to class, we had class, we didn’t have a care in the world, and we surely were not worried about a gunman coming in and shooting all of us. We never had that worry.
The national school walkout was some kind of scene. It was great and meaningful and really put Congress to task: “Get new gun laws or be voted out.”
Today is another world and children have to be concerned that there is a real possibility of a gunman coming into their school and shooting it up. Grandson, I hope this never happens to you or to any more children. That’s why I’m so happy about this solidarity movement of all the children. And I shouldn’t say “children,” I should say “young adults” who are rising up and trying to have new gun laws passed.
We can’t consider, we can’t even consider, arming the teachers. That’s not what they’re getting paid to do. They’re getting paid to teach the children, educate them. When I was in Vietnam, I was there as a hospital Corpsman and not there to kill anybody. I was there to patch up the guys that were wounded; just like a teacher is there to teach, not be security guards.
Speaking of being in a combat situation, you kinda expected to be shot at and so we feared every day, every minute, it just didn’t stop. Children of my era didn’t fear going to school as the children of today do. I can only imagine what their fear is like when they’re learning about cells in Biology or prepositions in English or functions in Algebra and suddenly there’s the roar of an AR-15 firing in the room across the hall from them and the dread that they’re next.
I heard that weapon and many more (AK-47) and the sheer pounding of the bullets on the ground and the whizzing sound of bullets passing your head is very scary. And the sounds of screams from individuals that are hit, that stays with you forever. These children will hear these sounds for the rest of their lives.
Things need to change.
My thoughts, my grandson.
Stan Gerding is the author of the book The Nam “Doc” A Navy Corpsman’s Story.