Tag Archives: March For Our Lives

The ‘next generation’ is stepping up

I am not inclined to bemoan the future of our country based on the behavior of those who comprise “the next generation.” I have sought over many years to give my younger fellow Americans the benefit of the doubt that they’ll step up when it counts the most.

We are witnessing the next generation doing precisely that as it relates to its fear and concern over gun violence.

A lot of Panhandle students are going to march this weekend from Ellwood Park to the Potter County Courthouse. They are part of a national movement called “March For Our Lives.” I read today that national organizers are expecting as many as 1 million marchers from coast to coast.

The Amarillo march is being organized out of Caprock High School, with students seeking to generate interest in communities far beyond Amarillo.

The catalyst is that slaughter in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day. A gunman killed 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This massacre was merely the latest in a horrifying string of such mass murders.

It has energized a generation of Americans. Some of them have become media stars. They have spoken with remarkable eloquence about their fear and their desire to see political leaders take action against gun violence.

These young people have taken the point in organizing these marches. They are giving older folks — such as yours truly — greater faith that our country is being taken over by responsible citizens. They are energized by what they deem to be a crisis. They are taking action. They are engaging in activities that signal good citizenship.

These concerns about “younger generation” go back many thousands of years. Quotations attributed to the Greek philosopher Plato lament how badly children behave, how disrespectful they are of their elders and how “they riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”

Today’s youngsters make me proud and affirm my faith that our country will find its way well into the future.

Hoping this march leaves big footprint

One might be able to expect a big turnout for what’s coming at the end of the week in places such as Berkeley, Boston and Austin.

My strong and sincere hope is that the event that will unfold at Ellwood Park in Amarillo, Texas, will rival what can be expected in those more progressive-minded communities.

Students from throughout the Texas Panhandle are going to “March For Our Lives.” They’ll parade through downtown Amarillo and conclude at the Potter County Courthouse. There, they will read the names of the 17 students and staff members who were gunned down on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has become the latest “name” of tragedy related to gun violence.

Columbine, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Orlando. And now it’s Parkland. They’re all scarred indelibly — along with too many other sites — by the horror of gun violence.

The students want their collective voice to be heard. They want politicians to listen to them, just as politicians from an earlier era listened to young people who marched against the Vietnam War.

Those earlier young people who now are grandparents of today’s youngsters had “skin in that game.” Many of them did not want to serve in a war with which they disagreed. They marched, chanted and occasionally battled with law enforcement.

Today’s young people believe — correctly, in my view — that they are in the line of fire of another battle. It’s being fought here at home. The gun lobby has lined up one side; these students and many millions of members of the American public are lined up on the other side.

The students want change in the laws that govern the sale and purchase of firearms. They want stricter controls on those who can obtain those weapons. The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, traditionally has opposed those tighter rules and regs, contending that they threaten the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Will the students here in the Texas Panhandle, a place known as being extremely friendly to the gun lobby, be able to have their voices heard as clearly as they’ll be heard next Saturday in other communities? Time will tell us plenty.

Our nation’s young people are frightened. To their credit, though, they aren’t cowering. They are taking their message into city streets and rural roads from coast to coast.

They want to be heard.

Let them be heard while they “March For Our Lives.”

Today’s students channeling their grandparents

I am hearing some talk in recent days about the nature of the student-led protests that are developing across the nation in reaction to the spasm of gun violence in our public schools.

It has something to do with an earlier era of protest that got enough people’s attention to hasten the end of a costly and divisive war.

Many observers equate the post-Parkland, Fla., school massacre response to what transpired in the 1960s and early 1970s, when thousands of Americans protested the Vietnam War.

They hope this protest has the staying power of that earlier time, when Grandma and Grandpa were much younger and took on the power structure that continued sending young Americans to die on battlefields halfway around the world.

Young Americans are dying today, too. The difference is that they are dying in classrooms here at home.

I wasn’t among the young folks who marched in the street, carrying a sign, chanting slogans … that kind of thing. I wasn’t wired that way. Indeed, I took part for a time in that war, heading off to Vietnam in the spring of 1969 to serve in the Army.

Upon my return and later my separation from the Army in the summer of 1970, I was filled with plenty of doubt about that war and whether its mission was worth continuing. The Vietnam War did awaken my political awareness, although I put it to use in ways that didn’t require me to stand on street corners yelling my displeasure at U.S. foreign policy.

The Parkland slaughter does seem to have awakened a new generation as well. Students plan to “March For Our Lives” on March 24. In Amarillo — a community not really known as a political hotbed for protest — that event will begin at Ellwood Park, where students and their elders will gather to march to the Potter County Courthouse.

Should this protest shred the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right of Americans to “keep and bear arms”? No. Not in the least. Surely there must be some legislative remedy that preserves the amendment, but which makes it more difficult for nut cases to obtain firearms.

The young people who are on the “front lines” of this struggle are seeking to have their voices heard. Decades ago, another generation of young people were thrust onto the front lines to fight another war. Their voices were heard eventually. They brought change then. Their descendants can bring it once more.

Students face steep hill on their upcoming march

I am delighted in the extreme to hear about plans for Texas Panhandle students to take part in a national “March For Our Lives” event.

As I understand it, Caprock High School students are leading the organizational effort. They hope to be joined by students from throughout the Panhandle on March 24. They’ll gather at Ellwood Park and will march to the Potter County Courthouse.

They’ll stand on the courthouse grounds and read names of shooting victims and will demand action from our political leaders to do something about the scourge of school-related gun violence.

They have been spurred to hit the streets by the Valentine’s Day massacre of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The slaughter has produced some student superstars who have emerged as spokespeople for this young people’s crusade against gun violence.

However …

Let’s not sugarcoat the difficulty facing the Panhandle marching delegation. They won’t exactly be preaching to a choir with a history or tradition of heeding calls to enact legislative remedies to curbing gun violence.

Amarillo is represented in the U.S. House by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, who has been virtually mute on the issue of gun violence. He doesn’t speak with any passion about how Congress can act. Thornberry recently spoke about considering what he called “common sense” measures … whatever the hell that means.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the state’s senior senator, is pitching legislation that would streamline data collection about military personnel; Cornyn’s bill stems from the Sutherland Springs church massacre in 2017. He has lined up behind stricter background checks. His Senate colleague, Ted Cruz, hasn’t signed on.

The March For Our Lives is intended to let lawmakers know that young Americans who aren’t yet of age to vote will become of age soon. These students say they intend to exercise their vote to support candidates who want to become more proactive on this gun violence crisis.

The majority of the Texas congressional delegation so far isn’t lining up as a receptive audience for the concerns that these students are conveying. I am certain that students who march in two weeks in communities represented by more sympathetic politicians will have a direct impact.

As for what the students here get … they have a steep hill to climb. They need to shout it loudly and clearly what they intend to do once they arrive at the Potter County Courthouse grounds.

Hoping these students stay involved

I am privileged to have a number of sharp, insightful friends and acquaintances on my social media networks.

One of them, a retired Amarillo physician, took note of a blog item I posted about Amarillo students who are joining a nationwide “March For Our Lives” in response to gun violence in our schools.

He wrote this: Let’s hope that this generation of young adults can sustain a movement better than the millennials have, who turned out to be just another “me” generation with no real impact. Yes, AMM, I mean you.

“AMM” stands for the Amarillo Millennial Movement.

OK, what’s the relevance here? AMM came forward in the summer and fall of 2015 to pitch in favor of the city’s multipurpose event venue. AMM wanted it built because it would help entice millennials to remain in Amarillo. The city had an election in November 2015 and the MPEV was approved. Construction on the project has begun and in April 2019, the city will welcome a new AA minor-league baseball franchise that will play in a brand new ballpark.

What happened to AMM? It vaporized. It’s nowhere to be found. Well, that’s not quite true. Its founder, a young woman who carried the water on behalf of AMM, moved to Fort Worth shortly after the November election. Ironic, don’t you think? She implored millennial residents to remain at home if the city approved the MPEV; voters said “yes” to the MPEV, but AMM’s primary spokeswoman left town.

The March For Our Lives movement has many more members getting involved. On March 24, Amarillo-area students are going to march from Ellwood Park to the Potter County Courthouse to call attention the scourge of school-related gun violence. The movement came about as a result of the Parkland, Fla., massacre that killed 17 people, most of whom were students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

I have a strongly held suspicion that March For Our Lives — given the life-and-death stakes that are involved — will be far more than a mere flash in the pan.