Stannard: The kids' time has come

It was just another beautiful warm day filled with sunshine and good cheer. The kids arrived at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, like they did every day, but today was different. Today was February 14; Valentine's Day — a day of love.

The love, exchange of positive thoughts and good will lasted throughout this Valentine's Day; a day that had moved right along just like every other day until 2:19 p.m. Towards the end of this Valentine's Day a troubled young man named Nicholas Cruz made the worst decision of his life. At 2:19 p.m. he arrived at the school armed with an AR-15 military style assault weapon. Exactly two minutes later he began shooting. In seven minutes he was able to kill 17 beautiful kids and wound many others.

Since 1980 there have been 137 school shootings that have killed 297 people. For reasons that are not completely clear it appears as though the Parkland tragedy may very well be the straw that broke the camel's back. It sure feels like it. Unlike the previous 136 school shootings this one hit home. This one has enraged the surviving kids in a way that we've not seen before.

The Parkland Kids as they have become known decided that enough is enough. They will no longer be silent in the face of senseless, avoidable tragedy. Thanks to the technology of today they are getting organized at a pace our forefathers could never dream of. We now live in a world where "instantly" is much faster than previously imagined. Technology has pros and cons. Right now we're seeing the pros.

For a long time I've been wondering why the kids today have not been more involved. Was it because they were self-absorbed like all teenagers? Do they just not care what's going on around them? Certainly they must know that we're heating up the planet and our leaders could care less. They must be more than a little scared at the prospects of our seemingly unstable president threatening nuclear war with another unstable leader, right? Who knows?

What we do know is that as of Valentine's Day 2018 things have changed. When the Parkland Kids sat in the balcony of the Florida legislature and watched their Representatives vote down a ban on the same weapon that killed their 17 friends those kids got a clear understanding of the problem. The problem is the adults who rule their lives are bought and paid for by one of the worst organizations in the country; the NRA. On that day the Kids learned the meaning of influence and power. It was a hard, but valuable lesson. It served only to make them more committed. Bad move by the adults.

Here at home I saw something I'm not sure I've ever seen before. At Town Meeting yesterday in Manchester high school kids from Burr & Burton Academy were in attendance. They sat dutifully in the bleachers throughout the entire meeting. It's hard enough for taxpayers to sit through a 4.5 hour Town Meeting, but the Kids did.

One of the last issues discussed was a non-binding article dealing with Climate Change; an issue not only ignored by our president, but denied by his administration. The Kids who spoke were articulate and passionate. The Kids know the issue is real and they know why it's real; the adults have caved in again. The adults have allowed the corporations to dictate what will and will not happen; not the people. The "people" are now teenagers who will no longer be silent on issues like gun control and climate change. We've pushed them too far. We've allowed their friends to be killed and their planet to be destroyed.

Were the BBA Kids inspired by the Parkland Kids; who knows? The Kids of America have finally had enough and it's about time. It's your time now Kids! Never forget Valentine's Day 2018.

Bob Stannard is a writer and has written two Vermont humor books and worked with Bobby Zappa on his memoirs, "Frankie & Bobby - Growing up Zappa"


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