Anthony Borges, rear, who was shot during the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, hugs Marianne Sheehan after a news conference with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. DeSantis ordered a statewide grand jury investigation on school safety. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Anthony Borges, rear, who was shot during the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, hugs Marianne Sheehan after a news conference with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. DeSantis ordered a statewide grand jury investigation on school safety. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Year after Parkland school shooting massacre, 17 victims remembered

14 students and three staff were killed

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre a year ago renewed the national debate on guns and school safety, turned some victims’ parents and surviving students into political activists and at least temporarily ended the local sheriff’s career.

But Thursday’s anniversary will primarily be about remembering the 14 students and three staff members who died in the third high-profile mass shooting in Florida since 2016. An interfaith service will be held at a Parkland park, near the school, to remember the victims.

Students also will perform service projects and observe a moment of silence and a non-denominational, temporary temple will open in neighbouring Coral Springs for people to pay their respects. The structure will later be burned in a purification ceremony. Security throughout the community and at schools will be high.

“We don’t need (the anniversary) to remind us what happened. We live with it every day,” said businessman Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the attack. He met with President Donald Trump at the White House after the shooting and became an adviser to Gov. Ron DeSantis and his predecessor, Rick Scott. Other fathers like Fred Guttenberg and Manuel Oliver have become active in Democratic politics.

And victims’ relatives from both sides helped lead the successful push to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. DeSantis suspended the Democratic sheriff last month, citing incompetence in his handling of the shooting. Israel is fighting the suspension in the state Senate and says he will try to win back the office in next year’s election.

The massacre also led some Stoneman Douglas students to form the group “March for Our Lives,” which holds rallies nationwide calling for tougher gun regulations and toured the country registering young adults to vote.

“It was the kids themselves that made Parkland an unusual shooting,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law and gun rights expert. Just in Florida, 49 people died in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and five died at Fort Lauderdale’s airport in 2017. There have been other notable mass shootings across the country during that period — at a Las Vegas concert, a Pittsburgh synagogue and a Texas high school. But none resonated politically like Stoneman Douglas.

“What we haven’t seen is a mobilization of the students in quite the same way,” Winkler said.

But Thursday will be mostly a day to push aside politics. Victims’ families who have spoken publicly say they will spend the day quietly, visiting their loved one’s grave or participating in low-key events like a community walk.

“We are going to simply reflect and remember,” said Tony Montalto, president of the victims’ families’ organization, Stand With Parkland. “That is the best thing.” Montalto’s 14-year-old daughter Gina died in the shooting.

At Stoneman Douglas, students will mark the tragedy by working on service projects. They also can receive mental health counselling and visit therapy dogs. Volunteers will provide massages and manicures.

READ MORE: ‘I still weep’: Parkland survivors write book on shooting

READ MORE: ‘I can’t bring Alyssa back’: Grieving Parkland mom fights on

Mickey Pope, the district’s chief of student-support services, said the staff worked with mental health counsellors, community groups, the victims’ families and others for four months to devise a plan they believe will honour those killed and allow students and staff to mourn.

Still, many Stoneman Douglas students are skipping school. For some it’s too emotional; others don’t want to be in the spotlight.

Alexis Grogan, a junior, said she’ll spend the day picking up beach trash, dedicating her work to those who died.

“I survived something and I don’t want to waste what I call a second chance at life because those who have passed don’t get that,” she said. “We have to make a difference for them.”

In Coral Springs, San Francisco-area artist David Best will open “The Temple of Time,” which at 1,600 square feet (150 square meters) represents the indefinite period it will take for the community to come to grips with the slayings. It’s an Asian design with a spire roof that has intricate designs cut into it.

Best rejected naming it “The Temple of Healing” because he said that is impossible for the victims and their families. Since 2000, he has built such temples worldwide, including in Northern Ireland for those killed in political strife and in Nepal for the 2015 earthquake victims. Like those structures, the Stoneman Douglas temple will be burned along with whatever mementos, writings and art that mourners leave behind. That ceremony will happen in May.

Most construction materials and other expenses are being paid by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s public arts foundation, but neither Best nor his workers are paid.

“When the smoke goes up and the flames go up, it will have a great meaning,” said volunteer Tony Bianco, an Army veteran and artist from Coral Gables,

___

Associated Press Writers Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale and Lisa Marie Pane in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

___

Terry Spencer, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Kelowna Toyota is located at 1200 Leathead Road. (BLack Press Media file)
Kelowna Toyota’s auto service department closed due to COVID-19 exposure

The dealership’s sales department is still open and is operating under regular business hours

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Kelowna OK Tire closed due to COVID-19 exposure

The business will remain closed until May 11

Two e-scooters parked on the sidewalk along Water Street in downtown Kelowna on Monday, May 3. Scooters parked on walkways are causing accessibility issues for some people with disabilities. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick summary of the stories that made an impact from May 3 to 5

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Most Read