The Wichitan

More than a march, a declaration

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Cortney Wood

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I’m sitting in a newsroom, frantically refreshing social media pages as millions of United States citizens burn with rage, intent to make a change in this fallen nation. Students, teachers, parents and friends march in honor and solidarity with the students determined to fix the broken system that failed them.

Call it whatever you want: whiny students that are just looking for a way to get out of school, bratty children throwing a fit or even little liberal snowflakes crying to the world, but let me be perfectly clear — this is more than labeling nonsense-tainting social media pages. It’s more than the right and left wings arguing about rifles and ammo and bump stocks. This is more than hateful memes in the comment sections degrading students to being “dumb teenagers that eat Tide Pods last week to national ‘heroes’ today.”

The March For Our Lives nationwide rally is about the stolen lives of people taken by a sick and twisted individual, all the while people are attempting to shift the focus off of the situation at hand and to discredit students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the tragedy they survived.

People in this very community are stating “this ‘march’ is based on emotion and ignorance and will come to nothing after a couple of weeks.” My heart hurts for the individuals that can’t share empathy with the students consumed by terror, burning anger and fear. However, instead of sitting around pining for the day they can vote and make a change, these students are advocating not only for others to get involved in politics but encouraging discussion and debate these topics.

Whether you agree with their course of action or not, these students refuse to be pushed aside despite being told they are “out of control” and it’s “disgusting” that the nation is “tuning in to high school assemblies, to get the aggregated wisdom of 18-year-olds.”

These “kids” are more mature than half the people I have interacted with and have the work ethic that puts mine to shame. While a shooter was in their school, targeting their peers, the student journalists were interviewing, documenting this tragedy and doing everything a natural-born journalist does in the face of danger.

No, school shootings don’t happen every day or happen to every school, but the fact that this is a very real possibility for students is heartbreaking. Even the most cynical critic should be able to understand that.

This is about a GOP candidate referring to Emma Gonzalez, survivor, journalist and vocal component, as a ‘skinhead lesbian’ to protect his party. This is about “adults” asking why, on national television, that the “people who don’t have the right to buy guns have the right to make my gun laws. They’re not citizens,” he added. “They’re children. They’re not of 18.”

Last time I checked, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services states, “If you meet certain requirements, you may become a U.S. citizen either at birth or after birth. To become a citizen at birth, you must: 1. Have been born in the United States or certain territories or outlying possessions of the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; or had a parent or parents who were citizens at the time of your birth (if you were born abroad) and meet other requirements.” So for anyone to dispute the legitimacy of these students’ identity not only wrongfully states a documented fact, but also discredits the person who said this fact. 

Furthermore, the Constitution, the foundation our country is based on and the document so many people are defending the Second Amendment for, states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or, prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right for the people to peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress for grievances.” That includes students, adults and politicians. We are all equal here.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the 45 words that have been seared into my brain since the first day I stepped into my Journalism 1 class back when I was in ninth grade. When I was the exact same age as many of the students that died on Feb. 14 in the high school shooting. This is the cornerstone journalism rests on. We exist to defend our citizens’ voice in this matter, and we will not be silenced or reduced to murmurs because people are angry that we are making educated and articulate stances on this issue.

This is about the safety we are forcing to happen for the students that do not get to vote in. They are begging us to listen to them, and I will not let this fall on deaf ears.

It has been 39 days since 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School died at the hands of a madman. And yes, a little march in Wichita Falls, Texas, might seem insignificant to some, but the march today was far greater than mudslinging individuals want to degrade it to be.

This is a small part of a revolution I am glad to be a part of.

Cortney Wood is a mass communication sophomore.

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More than a march, a declaration