What an inspiring turnout we had at the March for Our Lives – Tampa Bay. Some 13,000 people demanded change and that’s just one march. We’re making a difference. We’re being the change.
As I marched, I took a look around. I analyzed my surroundings. The atmosphere, the people, the vibes. One thing that stuck out to me was how different everyone was. We were all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, political parties and religions, but we all came together for the same cause: safety. For peace of mind that students who leave for school in the morning will come home that afternoon. That no one will have to wonder if they’re going to be “next” on the list of deaths caused by gun violence.
One of the students who spoke at the Tampa Bay rally said something that resonated with me. Our generation has been called "snowflakes." We're sensitive and entitled. We expect to be cradled and cared for in every setting. What this teenage girl said, the analogy she made, changed the way I interpreted being called a "snowflake." She said, when you get a bunch of snowflakes together and stir them up, that's called a blizzard.
Our generation is causing the biggest blizzard this born-and-raised Florida girl has ever seen. The blizzard spread from South Florida all the way to Northern California and has impacted everyone in its path. Not only is it inspiring, it's invigorating. With over 800 events nationwide, 13,000 people at the event in Tampa Bay, making a rough estimate of who got up and made a difference on March 24, 2018, would give you a wild number. A number so large it brought tears to my eyes.
Older adults were coming up to me at the March thanking me for what I'm doing. When the first person did this, I said, "Of course, I wouldn't be anywhere else."
That got me thinking. They're thanking me. They said they knew their generation was "helpless" and they are so proud of mine. While my generation has done a lot, the backing and support of theirs is the reason our movement continues. The older generations are doing more than they're taking credit for. I've thanked them in the past, but I will do it again. Thank you. Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for aiding us in being the change we need to see.
When exiting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) through the main red gates, there is a quote that has been there since I can remember: "’Be the change you wish to see in the world’ – Mahatma Gandhi."
There is no better quote to be on the wall of MSD. The students of this school are being the change we wish to see and are making the entire country do the same. This quote was foreshadowing somehow. It has been there for years, but whoever first hung it knew that MSD was special. That person believed we would make a change, someday, somehow. That's exactly what we're doing.
The first time I heard my generation being called the "Mass Shooting Generation," I was taken aback. This was in a 60 Minutes interview with some of the MSD students. Survivor Cameron Kasky initially said it. I had to sit and think for a moment about if this was true or not. After a few minutes of thought, I realized it was.
Mass shootings, specifically those in schools, began when I was only 2 years old. My entire time in school, we have had drills for armed intruders on campus. These drills shouldn't be as prevalent as fire drills and yet they almost are. My generation can tell you what it feels like to attempt to cram an entire class of 20-something kids into a classroom closet during a "Code Red" drill.
We've grown up with this fear instilled in us. Although that isn't fair, it makes us stronger. It makes us angrier. It makes us louder.
This movement is far from over; it's just beginning. Get out and register to vote. Send letters to your local representatives. We can't let the government forget about this. We can't let this movement fizzle out. We can't let another shooting happen.
I marched for my alma mater. I marched for not only the 17 that couldn’t, but for their loved ones as well. I marched for everyone who has ever been affected by gun violence. I marched for my classmates, teachers, friends and strangers. I marched for anyone who couldn't and I will continue to do so until we see change.
Zoe Zbar is a sophomore majoring in marketing.