When I was ten, one of my friends and classmates, Seth Sueppel, was murdered. His father beat him, his three siblings, and their mother to death with a bat. Afterwards, he called the police to report the deaths and fled the home. At the time, there was a great deal of confusion. No one knew where he was. No one knew if he was armed. No one knew what he might do. Fearing that he might come to the school, Longfellow Elementary went into lockdown. In Mrs. Dillard’s second grade class, we sat in silence. The teachers said nothing. They didn’t know what to say. How can you explain something like this to a child? We knew nothing. And so we sat in our corner, in the dark and in the silence.
I have had enough silence.
I have had enough of being in the dark. I have had enough of sitting around while adults do nothing. I am not content with being in the corner anymore.
Change will not come on its own. We have to make it for ourselves. The adults have proven that they are unwilling to move beyond thoughts and prayers. We must force them into action. My own senators, Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, have each accepted millions from the NRA. Is this how much our lives are worth? We may not have the power, the resources, or even the ability to vote, but we do have our voices. In America, there is no weapon more powerful.
For me, this conversation started with Seth, and with my own fear that followed. The next school year, we planted trees behind Longfellow for each member of the family. They’ve grown now, leaves sprouting and dying and falling with the seasons. Their branches have faded into the background, blending with the lines of trees behind them. But after ten years, I think their roots are finally spreading.