Just like everyone else in the world, I have seen the never-ending news stories about gun violence and the mass shootings occurring all across America. Unfortunately, I must admit that I have become numb to these stories because they seem to be the new normal. They happen one after another, and it seems as though they’ll never stop. You think to yourself that despite the number of times you see the headlines, it’ll never happen to you or somewhere you frequently visit.
Well, on April 30, 2019, those news stories covered a mass shooting that happened on MY college campus — a place I’ve come to know as a home away from home. Granted, I was not on campus that day, but there is not a day that goes by where I wonder, “What if I had been?”
I cannot fathom what I would have done or how I would’ve reacted if I had been there that day, but I do know how it’s affected me anyway. I’m terrified it’ll happen again, but I’m also angry that it happened in the first place. Two innocent lives were taken from this world, four were physically injured, and thousands of others were emotionally scarred, myself included.
This must stop. Gun violence must cease. It must end.
I don’t want this to be our new reality. I don’t want to be fearful. Most importantly, I don’t want to be numb to the headlines anymore.
The beautiful souls who have lost their lives to gun violence need to be remembered. Although their lives ended too soon, they shouldn’t simply become another addition to the growing statistic of gun violence victims.
They are not just another number. They have names and families who love and care about them.
I did not know the two students who lost their lives during the tragedy of April 30, 2019, but I will forever remember their names.
So, to conclude, I’d like to honor Riley Howell and Reed Parlier who were, and forever will be, Charlotte Strong.