Today, one of our writers, Alexandria West, would like to share some thoughts on the recent Parkland School Shooting:

Recently, the Parkland School shooting rocked the nation. On February 14th, 2018, a 19-year-old gunman opened fire with an AR-15 on students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Despite the best efforts of school officials to control the situation from the moment the first shot rang out, many lives were lost. Twelve confirmed victims died inside the school, while at least five were mercilessly gunned down as they fled outside.

At least twenty more were wounded, and still others vanished in the chaos with their whereabouts still unknown.

Below, you will find my thoughts as a Native South Floridian on what can only be described as an act of pure evil. Though these words hurt and tug at raw wounds, I hope they may also inspire courage in the face of tragedy.

Seventeen empty beds tonight; and 17 cold, steel drawers in place of a warm blanket and soft pillow. A school filled with Valentine’s Day gifts, left behind in shades of red and floods of tears.

Twenty-plus hearts and souls who may yet leave us and will be permanently scarred both physically and mentally if they are granted God’s grace to stay amongst us – as I pray that they will.

Even more souls are still missing and lost.

Families torn to shreds forever by an action that took mere seconds to execute.

Senseless violence, and for what? No greater purpose was served, no war won, simply one young life eternally damned for the mere sake of killing as sport.

Christian, my fiancé, my rock, and my world, worked IT at that school multiple times just a short while ago. It could be his side of the bed laying cold and empty, his dinner untouched, my tears soaking a shirt that holds his treasured scent, and his pets waiting for a master who will never return.

He will be held tightly and kissed for this entire night, my heart broken for those loves lost to us, but beating with selfish joy for the love held safely in my arms.

I hope you will all hold your loved ones close as well, tonight and every day that comes.

A single moment can change everything. Let us start using love as our weapon, faith as our shield, and hope as our guiding light.

For though we may sometimes be forced to shiver our way through the valley of death, we shall fear no evil.

Together, our goodness is stronger than all the evil on this earth. We are all Americans, and if united we stand, then never will we fall.