by Kevin Stoda
This morning I drove from my hotel in Ft. Lauderdale over to conclude a pilgrimage to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
All around the mile length of fencing around the front part of the now both infamous and famous high school were banners of encouragement to those who study and teach there. The most common banner wording I observed around the fencing this 10am stated #MSDStrong. Similar signs were on the middle schools in the neighborhood, too. There were also trees for about a mile to the south with purple ribbons tied onto them.
At the high school, I thrice read aloud the 17 names of those murdered in the 14 February massacre. These names were listed on a white banner on the southeast gate entrance to the high school.
I took out a symbol of freshness and my own youth: a box of white Tic Tacs. 
A tiny box of Tic Tacs contains about 17 Tic Tacs. As I located and read each of the names of the 17, I dropped a white TicTac onto the ground at the bottom of the fence in remembrance of each victim of the MSD Shooting. I also prayed that the revolution against gun violence against Americans–especially youth–will be brought to fulfillment this year.
Finally, I put the one extra (or remaining_ white TicTac (number 18 in the container) into my mouth to indicate a sense of shared community of fathers and community. Finally, before ending my pilgrimage I looked around at the banners shared in all directions around the school. I had ended a journey of some 1700+ miles from my own Kansas High School, where we had again been forced to conduct a safety drill just a day after the most recent massacre at a Texas High School very recently.
I had driven down from Kansas City, KS to this part of Florida over a 3 week period on the day we teachers had finished our end of the semester grading and paper work at J.C. Harmon High School for this spring of 2018.
As both a father and a teacher, I feel for American victims of all stripes of violence–that leading to suicide, more bullying, and more trauma, & especially victims of mass shootings over the past 20 years.
However, being a witness to such trauma has not been enough, America. So, we now look to new leadership in America to take over in 2018. If we include all the war related and terror related violence of American troops and abroad over these past decades, nearly every single American has been affected adversely by violence and guns since Columbine or Waco
In the meantime, as a father (and it being Father’s Day), I plan to take my daughter out to play in the parks of this city in Florida this June 17, 2018 afternoon.
I also pray that by the time my own daughter (now 8 years old) attends high school, many of the American nightmares of the past 20 years in American schools and society will have finally been ended as the current status quo of the American way of Life must be seen as a NO GO, my dear brothers and sisters here in the USA.
Enough is Enough.
Do something this 2018–as a parent and as a human being here in America!
. Tic Tacs are a symbol of youth and even of run-amok presidential candidates and USA presidential shamelessness. See: Wattles, Jackie, Tic Tac to Donald Trump: ‘Respect women’, http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/08/news/companies/tic-tac-donald-trump-washington-post-video/index.html
. Gun Violence has affected lives of 1 in 3 Americans over the past 20 years. Parkland’s Stoneman Douglas High School survivors visit Naperville to talk about gun violence, http://abc7chicago.com/parkland-school-shooting-survivors-participate-in-gun-violence-town-hall-in-naperville/3611256/