Road-Trip Sidetrack For Children

“There is nothing more precious to a parent than a child,
and nothing more important to our future than the safety of our children.” (Bill Clinton)

My wife and I combine over fifty years of challenging teaching experience in the public education system of South Florida. We have both seen our fair share of hostile student behavior play out unpredictably in the classroom. Thus it would be no surprise that we would be excited to detour our road trip agenda to attend the “March For Our Lives”protest against school gun violence in Flagstaff, Arizona. How sad it seemed as we passed a local gun shop in town gloriously advertising a weapons sale that day.

On a cold and blustery Saturday afternoon,a large and age diverse crowd would gather near City Hall Square for this spirited yet peaceful rally. Observing an atmosphere of warm friendliness and common unity as we entered, we picked up protest signs/buttons and exchanged stories with early arrivals. A large poster displaying photos of the student victims of the recent Stoneman Douglas tragedy would move me to tell others that I had in fact taught in close proximity to this school at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. Many I spoke to then also expressed vehement opposition to arming teachers as a practical solution to the problem.

The rally would now begin with passionate speeches by local adult citizens and high school students in the Flagstaff community. The message of deep concern for child safety was very clear from the start as each speaker impressively related their own gun violence experiences. Citing statistics from the National Safety Council that school gun violence has reigned out of control recently (ie. 17 school shootings occurred in schools since Jan.19, 2018), they concurred that a new wave of political action would most readily solve this problem. A long moment of silence would follow in reflective meditation followed by a call for each attendee to share with strangers standing nearby a personal story about what motivated them to choose to attend this march today. The hour long rally would then end with an orderly march of attendees through downtown.

We are proud that we took the time out of our road trip to stand proudly in Flagstaff for revolutionary change in America’s current political system. As we continue our journey, we look forward to volunteering our time for progressivism in the San Francisco Bay Area at the April 14 March for Science. I look forward to hearing from my blog readers any additional ideas for humanistic activism.

10 thoughts on “Road-Trip Sidetrack For Children

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  1. What a fabulous experience. Just being able to watch on TV, I can’t begin to know how poignant your experience must have been. Keep writing. It’s a great journey !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you you well know Marianne our generation desired to change the world for the better in college. I have the privilege of continuing that dream as I travel in retirement.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I thank you for posting this, Jim. And I very much appreciate that you and Ruth attended the march even though you were far away from home. Because this is not just a local problem but a national one. We, as educators understand the affect gun violence is having on students. And we also understand just how vulnerable teachers and students are as long as assault weapons are legal in this country.
    Ruth and I taught across from one another in a portable. The walls were paper thin and we were isolated out there, away from the safety of the main building. In an emergency we might not have been able to get to that area during lock down. An AR-15 would have pulverized the walls and windows of our portables and hit large numbers of our students . There was no safe place to hide out there. And we would not have been able to get a classroom full of children into the tiny bathrooms in those ancient prefab structures. The best we could have done would have been to gather perhaps 5 or 6 students and shove them into the bathroom.
    We would have been sitting ducks. Oh, rest assured Ruth and I would have played it cool to keep the children calm, and we would have protected them at the risk of own lives, but the reality is, had a gunman with an assault weapons jumped the little fence out back of our elementary school, it would have been a massacre. And that thought is terrifying.

    Parkland is fifteen minutes down the road from my home.That was the last place I ever would have suspected to have such a tragedy to occur. And yet it did. I now fear for my grandchildren’s safety. I have volunteered in their classrooms (now that I am retired) and those building have one tiny little bathroom in each class. Not nearly big enough to hide a group of children. There are no walk in closets either. The Children are defenseless sitting ducks.

    And our lawmakers don’t have a clue. I’d like to see them huddled on the ground with squirming elementary schoolers crying in fear for hours while they are on lockdown. My niece is now teaching at the same school where Ruth and I taught and she said it is horrible because now she does gun drills with her 3rd grade class and they are terrified each and every time thinking this time it might be for real.
    So, I thank you for writing this blog. I thank you and Ruth for continuing to participate and speak out for democracy and to help get the message out to protect our children and end gun violence. And while I am so proud of our Parkland students who are so passionate and articulate in the face of tragedy, I am equally proud of my fellow educators who understand and are also marching to save lives. You are also making a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

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