AHMED: Valentine’s Day marks anniversary of tragedy

Feb. 14: Valentine's Day. Love is in the air. Bouquets of roses are sold by the minute. It is not yet spring, but flower petals cover the sidewalk. Grand gestures are planned and perfectly executed (for instance, my professor is flying 2,872 miles, amid a snowstorm, to see his wife). Dresses and tuxedos are brought back from the dry cleaners. Reservations are made weeks in advance. Secret admirers are no longer "secret." Valentine's Day is all about expressing your love and affection to your significant others. 

It is that one day a year where those who forget to remind their significant other how much they love them remember to tell them that they are over the moon for them. That one day where those who do not often express their love to those they cherish, do so with a box of chocolates or bouquet of roses. The one day you realize how much adoration you truly have for that one valuable person. 

But, Valentine’s Day does not spark feelings of love or invoke that sensation of butterflies and joy for all (and no, I am not referring to those like myself who are single). Instead of love in the air, grief and sorrow are imminent. Dresses and tuxedos are brought back from the dry cleaners, but to be worn to the cemetery. Instead of bouquets of roses being given to loved ones, roses are placed by the graves of 17 individuals. 

For the families, friends, but most importantly of all, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Valentine's Day will forever be a reminder for them to remember their loved ones. For them though, they are remembering the people they have lost. They are remembering the 17 students and teachers whose aspirations and futures were stolen from them because of one heinous act. 

On Valentine's Day 2018, students and educators from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School experienced one of the most catastrophic days of their lives. Students who wanted to receive chocolate roses received, instead, a death sentence from Nikolas Cruz, who felt it was acceptable for him to take 17 lives of the students and teachers in the high school he was expelled from. 

Seventeen people. Someone’s father, someone’s wife and someone’s child were taken in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018. For the Parkland community, Feb. 14 does not incite in those mourning the feelings of love expressed on Valentine’s Day anymore. The families, friends and students of this school do not get to have Valentine's Day. Valentine’s Day has become an annual reminder to the Parkland community of a horrifying experience and a day to remember and grieve over those it lost. 

No one knows when their last day may be. Remember to tell the people you love how much you love them. Do not wait for one day a year to remind those you are head over heels for how you feel. 

In honor of a day filled with grief, love, but more valuable, hope, I ask you to remember the lives of those who were loved. Someone’s father. Someone’s wife. Someone’s child. I urge you all to take 18 minutes of your day. One minute for Alyssa Alhadeff. One minute for Scott Beigel. One minute for Martin Duque Anguiano. One minute for Nicholas Dworet. One minute for Aaron Feis. One minute for Jaime Guttenberg. One minute for Christopher Hixon.One minute for Luke Hoyer. One minute for Cara Loughran. One minute for Gina Montalto. One minute for Joaquin Oliver. One minute for Alaina Petty. One minute for Meadow Pollack. One minute for Helena Ramsay. One minute for Alexander Schachter. One minute for Carmen Schentrup. One minute for Peter Wang. 

And finally, 1 minute for humanity. 

Laila Ahmed is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year majoring in Information Technology and Informatics and English. Her column, “The Unapologetic Writer,” runs on alternate Thursdays. 


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