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Speaking to Children Who Ran for Their Lives as Their Classmates and Teachers Were Shot

Four years ago, I gave a speech at a "Times Up" rally for 19-year-old Elijah Manley. He was the first person to run for School Board in Florida born during the continuing disaster we call the modern American active school shooter/bomber era.

Mr. Manley, like others born in the late 1990s and thereafter, grew up participating in "active shooter drills" at school and shopped for "bulletproof backpacks" and "stop the bleed kits" --- things Americans of my generation never had to deal with.

I was asked to address prevention and the modern active school shooter/bomber era established at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 at that "Times Up" event prior to the school board election. It was emotional discussing why we as a nation must work together to prevent further school shootings with innocent children who were seated in class on February 14, 2018 at Douglas High staring back at me. They knew all too well why prevention is so important.

Unfortunately, in the four years since then, the tragedies keep coming, one after the other. Three of the most catastrophic mass shooting events in U.S. history occurred in the past few months - from Buffalo to Uvalde to Highland Park.

Mr. Manley who went to school with the convicted Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter at age 12, noted troubling signs even at that tender age. He hoped to serve the district that included Parkland where Douglas High is located. Mr. Manley received a record 45,000 votes during that 2018 election, quite an achievement for such a youthful and independent candidate who refused donations from special interests group. Sadly, it was not enough. Only about 51% of registered Parkland voters participated in the election held six months after 17 people were murdered and 17 others wounded on February 14, 2018.

We cannot effect change if we do not vote. Hopefully, more than 51% of registered voters will participate in this year's elections.


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