Addressing Parkland

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Never did I expect to be addressing a school shooting in Parkland. The City of Parkland, the City of Coral Springs, and countless communities throughout Broward were affected by the horrific and devastating tragedy that took place on 2/14/18. Together we faced an unspeakable tragedy that none of us could have ever imagined — the attack on our school where 3,300 of our children go each day to learn, better themselves, build a future, and interact with their friends and the teachers who care for them.

Our hearts are heavy, as they will be for a long time, for the families who lost a loved one. We are also heartbroken for those who were injured, the students, teachers, staff, and first responders who saw things no one should ever have to see. We also feel for those who suffered the loss of a friend, a teammate, a student, a teacher, a neighbor, a coworker. We feel for those who waited excruciating lengths of time to hear from loved ones not knowing if they were safe.

As we grieve, each of us in our own way, it is important we understand everyone grieves in different ways and in different time. We should all be understanding and respectful of the grieving of others —realizing there is no wrong way to grieve. No one should be left to feel guilty for the way they are processing this tragedy. This is not a time for judgment or critique, but a time for extending kindness and offering support. That will serve to unite us and that is how we will get through this together.

Parkland has always taken great pride in being a close-knit city of families. We see families at every event in the City, we see them biking together, we see them in the grocery store. On Wednesday, February 14, 2018 the Parkland family grew much larger. In the immediate aftermath of the events on that day and continuing now, so many people and organizations have reached out to our City with assistance and support. Many of them from distant places, but all of them reassuring us that we are not alone, that we have family all across the country.

To our immediate family — the students, faculty, and staff of Stoneman Douglas High School, the residents of Parkland, our neighbors in Coral Springs who suffered the impact just as we did — we are here for you to move forward together. To our extended family of those around the country who have offered a sympathetic hand, we welcome you and are strengthened by your compassion and the piece of our heart that you now occupy.

As the nation, and the world, has watched news coverage of our community, they have realized what a special place this is. They have seen our community rally together quickly. They have seen our strength and determination. They have seen our wonderful students speak out eloquently about the need for change so this never happens again.

We have a long and difficult road ahead. Many in our northwest Broward community are suffering and grieving. We must ensure they have the support and resources to navigate through this. Our community has always risen to the occasion to help others and I know we will be strong and help each other. Together we will get through this with our community support and the support of our extended family.

There are many names I could mention at this time. People who have been heroic, supportive, and instrumental in so many positive things that have transpired in such a short span of time. And I know they will understand if I mention only 17 names in this column.  #ParklandStrong. #MSDstrong.

Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, and Peter Wang.

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