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A Nomad’s Notes: “Do not underestimate the power of America’s youth”

The four high schoolers waited outside Port City Java on the cloudy and slightly chilly Saturday afternoon of March 24, before the start of March For Our Lives – Wilmington NC, part of a national movement taking a stand against ever-increasing gun violence.

Among the four waiting outside was Nick Berry, a Brunswick County Early College High School sophomore and one of the student leaders of the Wilmington event. Started by Emma Lippincott, the idea for the march came into play just after the fatal shootings at a Parkland, Fla., high school Feb. 14. Students at that school began March For Our Lives, and as word of it spread so did the number of marches across the United States and even beyond in countries where common-sense gun laws have effectively stopped most mass shootings.

Here in America, shootings are a daily occurrence. And it seems as if mass shootings happen at least once a month from Nevada to Texas to Florida. Where next?

It was for these reasons Nick decided to get involved, and why his friends and family soon joined him.

One of those to join him Saturday was Brenna Smith, also a sophomore at ECHS, who said she found out about the local march through Nick, and said she’s helped him in emotional support and being part of the march itself.

“To me, it’s really impressive that my friend Nick Berry, he jumped right in and got involved,” Smith said. “It’s not just him doing (it); it’s like, a group of young people. It’s just like really impressive because they did that all on their own, so this is going to be like, thousands of people … they coordinated this whole thing, and there have been a lot of passionate people that have shown up just right now.”

Nick’s friend from South Brunswick Middle School, South Brunswick High School sophomore Hannah Garner, said this march is an important way for students to “use their voice in a democratic nation.”

“I find it really empowering that people our age are able to do this, just to say ‘enough is enough,’” she said. “I just think it’s a really profound moment that people just find their voice and what they believe.”

She also said it’s important for politicians to pay attention to marches like these to gauge the current climate. “I hope (politicians), at least they consider what’s being said, even if they really don’t agree, and just consider the fact that people do want change, and they’re there for the people.”

Nick’s older brother Richard, an ECHS senior, also said he hopes politicians will realize when they should stand aside “and that we’re here, we’re ready to take on the responsibilities to fix what they couldn’t do, and … fixing the problems they left for us.”

Shortly after I interviewed the four, I walked with them and many others to 100 Walnut St., where the march began, and followed the march along the riverfront to the front of the Alton Lennon Federal Building and Courthouse in downtown Wilmington.

I always get a shiver and cry when I’m overwhelmed from feeling the power of people rising against injustice. This event was no different.

I’m 27 now, but I still feel young. I feel one with the young adults today who are saying enough is enough — enough corruption, enough putting trust into the wrong people, enough excuses.

And just like these young people today, I’m angry, too. I’m angry that so many who claim to be pro-life and anti-abortion would rather rally behind the cold butt of a gun over the warmth of a living, breathing child.

As someone online said, this movement is about teenagers asking adults for help in protecting them. They’re essentially saying, “Hey, adults, we’d rather not be killed by guns. Can you make it so it’s more difficult for that to happen?” Yet somehow that’s controversial.

I can’t imagine caring more about objects than lives.

I can’t imagine being more concerned someone may take away an AR-15 that no one needs (“Bambi ain’t gonna shoot back,” as my mom says) than about what the youth of our nation have to say in a literal fight for their lives.

And I can’t imagine lining my pockets with lobbying money from the National Rifle Association and then bowing to their will when it is the people who elected me I should be serving.

I’ve gotta wonder if people like Marco Rubio and our state’s very own Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, who have done just that, considered this when they went to church on Easter Sunday to celebrate their savior’s resurrection. I mean, Jesus threw out the moneychangers. I think we know where he’d stand — or rather, march.