Thistlethwaite: Why I will March For Our Lives against gun violence on March 24 in Vail (column) | VailDaily.com

Thistlethwaite: Why I will March For Our Lives against gun violence on March 24 in Vail (column)

Susan Thistlethwaite
Valley Voices

Susan Thistlethwaite

I'm a grandmother of five, and I worry every day about gun violence erupting at one of my grandchildren's schools. This isn't normal. This isn't right.

I plan to join March For Our Lives in Vail on Saturday, March 24, at 10 a.m. to say that we must stop the gun violence that is afflicting our school-age children so much that on Wednesday, March 14, they walked out of their schools in the thousands, protesting not only the deaths of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, but also shootings of so many children and young people across the country for so many years. The attack in Parkland, Florida was the eighth school shooting in 2018 alone.

No wonder young people are saying, in every way they can, #EnoughisEnough and #NeverAgain. They are right. Adults need to follow their lead.

Just before our most recent planning meeting of the local Vail Valley/Eagle County Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America group, a friend of mine posted there was an "active shooter" alert at the Northwestern University campus in Chicago, and her son's class of 3 and 4-year-olds was on lockdown at their preschool a couple of blocks away.

Fortunately, this situation turned out to be a cruel hoax, but the preschoolers would, of course, still be traumatized. This mother was horrified, and as soon as the lockdown was lifted, she hurried to her son's school. She said she plans to march with her son in the March For Our Lives in Chicago.

I have supported Mom's Demand Action, an organization that is helping to support March For Our Lives, since it was founded in 2012 by stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts in response to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty children and six adults were fatally shot at the school. It traumatized the whole nation. We have been working ever since to get common-sense gun laws passed, gun laws that now the majority of the country support.

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Here in Colorado, however, the motivating event for so many to demand common sense gun laws is the Columbine High School massacre. In 1999, two students at that school murdered 12 students and one teacher. They injured 21 additional people. Since moving here, I have learned that person after person in Colorado can tell you where they were when that massacre happened.

At our planning meeting for the March 24 event, people said, "I was 6 when I saw the news about Columbine on the TV," or "I was 9," or "My daughter had friends who were killed at Columbine" or "I am here because of Columbine."

This isn't normal. This isn't right. This has to change.

The Vail March For Our Lives is one of the nearly 850 marches taking place on March 24 around the United States and the world, and you can find their locations and sign up at the momsdemandaction.org website, or at marchforourlives.com. Just put in your zip code. We welcome all people who care about the safety of children and young people.

I plan to march not only for my grandchildren, but also for all Americans. We have tolerated this pandemic of school shootings far too long.

#EnoughIsEnough #NeverAgain

Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and a professor of theology. She and her husband now make their home in the Vail Valley.

If you go …

What: March For Our Lives.

When: 10 a.m. Saturday, March 24 (author’s note: you will have plenty of time to get to #PinkVail after the march).

Where: Meet at the Covered Bridge in Vail Village.

More information: Visit https://demandactionvail.squarespace.com.