MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday, the 15th of February, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up: honoring the victims of a mass school shooting.
Yesterday marked one year since a 19-year-old gunman stalked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, opened fire, and killed 17 people.
It was the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history.
Survivors and community members paid tribute to the victims yesterday with service projects and a memorial service held at a park near the school.
REICHARD: WORLD Radio correspondent Brigitte Sylvestre visited one of those events and joins us now to talk about it.
Good morning, Brigitte.
BRIGITTE SYLVESTRE, REPORTER: Good morning, Mary.
REICHARD: First of all, such evil is unimaginable to those who haven’t had to endure it. How has the Parkland community coped this past year?
SYLVESTRE: Well Mary, as you’ve been seeing in the news there’s been a lot of churches, community groups, organizations looking for ways just to provide a place for students, parents, family members to come and process their grief. Whether it be a vigil or just an opportunity to come and hang out in a place that’s safe. And so we’ve seen that unity and kind of unification spirit around town throughout this past year.
REICHARD: Well, you spent yesterday with students trying to help repair the world through service. Tell us about that.
SYLVESTRE:Yes, well, the day started at MSDHS from about 8 in the morning to about 10:30 with a meal packaging day. People were really trying to take their pain and say you know what we’re doing something good out of it. We’re helping the world. And that’s where I met Amber Smith. She left work early, brought her children out, and they were there packaging the food. And she kind of explains the process.
SMITH: We do the wheat and we do the grain and we do the rice and we have people over there who are measuring it and just making sure it is exactly the way it’s supposed to be. and then they box it. right now we are in the middle of a competition: whoever boxes the most in the next 10 minutes wins something. I’m assuming just bragging rights.
REICHARD: Well, Brigitte, what else did you hear from the people volunteering there?
SYLVESTRE: And as you could hear in Amber’s voice there, I heard a lot of that same sentiment. I think people inside were really kind of just determined to not let evil win. We want to turn it into something good. And I think a lot of people throughout south Florida were looking for ways to do that yesterday.
REICHARD: I think you also spoke to a pastor there. What did he have to say?
SYLVESTRE: Yes, I spoke with Pastor Eddie Bevell. He’s from Parkridge Baptist Church. His church is literally just a mile or two away from MSDHS and he just echoed so many people: they were just looking for a sense and a way to move forward.
BEVELL: There’s a palpable sadness here, and it’s obvious, why wouldn’t it be, it’s a terrible thing. But we also don’t want to just live in those terrible moments forever. So as we remember, respectfully, and hope this will never happen again- and we’re more vigilant now—but we also want to move forward.
REICHARD: So serving others is one way people are trying to get through the grief. What else are you hearing from the community?
SYLVESTRE: Well, I’m hearing from a lot of church youth groups and church leadership that they really just want to have that ministry of presence. A lot of youth leaders, they really just want to be there for their students at MSD and just provide presence, a listening ear, be there, not overwhelm these kids with too much, but just say we’re here for you whenever you need us.
REICHARD: Brigitte Sylvestre is a WORLD Radio correspondent based in south Florida. Brigitte, thanks for your reporting on this story.
SYLVESTRE: Thank you, Mary.