I am 18 years old. I be­long to the mas­sacre gen­er­a­tion

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY JU­LIA SAVOCA GIB­SON

It was last Satur­day when it hit me that my en­tire life has been framed by vi­o­lence.

I don’t re­mem­ber be­ing born on Jan. 28, 2000, and I don’t re­mem­ber be­ing 1 1/2 years old when 9/11 hap­pened. I don’t re­mem­ber the panic of my mother as she stepped out­side our house in Wash­ing­ton and smelled the smoke of the burn­ing Pen­tagon. I don’t re­mem­ber her know­ing I would grow up in a changed world.

But I re­mem­ber other things. I re­mem­ber be­ing 7 and see­ing adults who were sad, an­gry, shocked af­ter some­thing ter­ri­ble hap­pened at Vir­ginia Tech. I re­mem­ber not know­ing why. I re­mem­ber the lock­down drills at my el­e­men­tary school, the help­ful signs in every class­room telling us where to hide in case of a “Code Blue,” which meant ac­tive shooter.

I re­mem­ber be­ing in sev­enth grade, and I re­mem­ber my teacher look­ing up from her com­puter, pale, and run­ning out of the room with­out a word dur­ing a quiz. I re­mem­ber her walk­ing back in, tears streaking her face, as she told us there had been a shoot­ing in New­town, Con­necti­cut, where her grand­chil­dren lived. I re­mem­ber her telling us they were all right, and I re­mem­ber think­ing of my lit­tle brother in his sec­ond-grade class­room and feel­ing my stom­ach churn.

I re­mem­ber walk­ing into my high school the day af­ter the night­club shoot­ing in Or­lando, Florida, and see­ing one of my gay friends sit­ting limply in a chair, eyes hol­low. I re­mem­ber sob­bing. Of­ten, I re­mem­ber sob­bing.

I re­mem­ber Park­land the most clearly. I re­mem­ber the si­lence. No one talked about it the morn­ing af­ter. No teach­ers men­tioned it. I re­mem­ber talk­ing to my friend Max about how odd it was that no one said any­thing. I re­mem­ber him gather­ing our friends to or­ga­nize a walk­out. I re­mem­ber walk­ing out, and I re­mem­ber the si­lence of the crowd of stu­dents stand­ing out­side in the March cold. I re­mem­ber the crackle of the mega­phone we used as we read one name of one vic­tim every minute. I re­mem­ber those 17 min­utes.

I re­mem­ber go­ing with two friends last Fri­day to a Shab­bat ser­vice in the spare room of a lo­cal Methodist church, spon­sored by my col­lege’s Jewish or­ga­ni­za­tion Hil­lel. I re­mem­ber my friend Lucy lead­ing the prayers, with her singing and play­ing gui­tar, and I re­mem­ber my valiant at­tempts to sing along us­ing the translit­er­a­tions below the He­brew in the books they’d handed out. I re­mem­ber get­ting kosher din­ner with them af­ter­ward as they ex­plained to me how and why kosher food was a thing. I re­mem­ber them de­scrib­ing the dif­fer­ent kinds of Ju­daism they all came from.

I re­mem­ber wak­ing up on Satur­day morn­ing and see­ing the news about the fa­tal shoot­ing at the Tree of Life syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh on my phone. I re­mem­ber the sad­ness, shock, anger. I re­mem­ber the haunt­ing thought that the shooter might have gone to our ser­vice in­stead, or could go to the next one. I re­mem­ber the look in my Jewish friends’ eyes.

And it was then that I re­mem­bered ev­ery­thing at once. I re­mem­bered all the vi­o­lence loom­ing around me, and my friends, and my en­tire gen­er­a­tion. I re­mem­bered that for any­one born near the year 2000, this is all we’ve ever known.

I re­mem­ber fill­ing out my ab­sen­tee bal­lot a few weeks ago. I re­mem­ber vot­ing, hop­ing that weeks, years, decades from now I’d be able to re­mem­ber that we changed.

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