Year After Parkland Massacre, 17 Victims Remembered

February 14, 2019 Updated: February 14, 2019

PARKLAND, Fla.—Hundreds of thousands of students and adults across Florida and beyond observed a moment of silence Thursday, Feb. 14, to mark the anniversary of the shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead.

“It’s a permanent sore spot,” said Fort Lauderdale High School junior Jake Lynch. “Forever me going forward, I’ll feel this day, and this time and those names. It reminds me of where I want the world to be. … From suffering better things come out.”

The massacre on Feb. 14, 2018, inflamed the national debate over guns, turned young people into political activists and gave rise to some of the biggest youth demonstrations since the Vietnam era.

Flowers and stones are shown at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Flowers and stones are at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the anniversary of the school shooting, in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2019. (Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo)

A moment of silence was observed at 10:17 a.m., though the shooting actually began around 2:20 p.m. School officials picked a different time because Stoneman Douglas students were being dismissed early to avoid being on campus at the hour of the attack. The decision to hold it at 10:17 a.m. was made in honor of the 17 slain.

Many Stoneman Douglas students arrived wearing the burgundy #MSDStrong T-shirts that have become an emblem of the tragedy. Outside, clear plastic figurines of angels were erected for each of the 14 students and three staff members killed.

Emma Rothenberg, left to right, with her mother Cheryl Rothenberg and sister
(L-R) Emma Rothenberg, her mother Cheryl Rothenberg and sister, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Sophia Rothenberg embrace at a memorial marking the anniversary of a mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2019. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

Reporters were not allowed inside the school, but students were working on service projects, and grief counselors and therapy dogs were made available. Students could also receive massages and pedicures. An interfaith service was scheduled for later in the day at a nearby park.

“I want to show respect to what happened,” freshman Matthew Sabia said. “The students who were here are probably sad and don’t want to think too much about it. We don’t really talk about it.”

Many Stoneman Douglas students skipped school. For some it was too emotional; others did not want to be in the spotlight.

Alexis Grogan, a junior, said she was spending 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.”

Classes were almost over last Valentine’s Day when authorities say 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz stormed the place with an AR-15 assault rifle and began shooting. Cruz, 20, is awaiting trial.

Victims’ families who have spoken publicly said they would spend the day quietly, visiting their loved ones’ graves or participating in low-key events like a community walk.

Ilan and Lori Alhadeff, center, the parents of Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, hold hands
Ilan and Lori Alhadeff (C), the parents of Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, hold hands as they listen to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference, on Feb. 13, 2019. (Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo)

“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.

Schools elsewhere around the country and Florida took time to remember the victims.

School crossing guard Wendy Behrend lights a candle at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
School crossing guard Wendy Behrend lights a candle at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the one-year anniversary of the school shooting,in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14, 2019. (Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo)

At Ohio’s Boardman High, a chime rang 17 times. At Bethesda Chevy Chase High in Maryland, 671 white T-shirts were hung bearing the name of a teenager killed by gun violence last year. A Tampa high school honored the Parkland dead by releasing 17 white balloons.

By Terry Spencer And Adriana Gomez Licon

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