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Hello, readers.

It’s been a busy February — hence the Mommy Mentions hiatus. However, Wednesday afternoon’s (Feb. 14, 2018) tragic events in Parkland, Florida, and a mom-to-teen discussion this morning concerning those events warrants a quick entry.

Arriving home from work to take my children to church for Ash Wednesday services, I found my daughter watching breaking news on NBC. A shooting had occurred at a Florida high school. At that point, the suspect remained at large.

Looking at the TV, thoughts traveled back to the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. Students fled from that Florida school in much the same manner as the Columbine students — hands held high or on their heads, one after the other, fear evident. Sitting in church, I prayed for minimal casualties. At that point, the toll wasn’t known.

As of this morning (Feb. 15, 2018), 17 are dead, including a football coach and teacher who had thrown himself in the line of fire to save his students. More suffered injuries. A 19-year-old former student who had shown signs of trouble is behind bars, charged with 17 counts of murder.

Another school shooting. Another call for lawmakers to do something more about gun control. Another time to ask “why wasn’t more done to prevent this?” and “how can we stop it from happening again?” Another time to worry when it might happen again — unfortunately.

Another talk with children about the what ifs. What if it happened at her school? Are the teachers and students prepared to react? Is enough being done to make sure they are prepared? It’s sad when your child spends time on her way to school thinking of places to take cover in each classroom.

Every day before my daughter leaves the car, I give her a kiss on the cheek or forehead and I tell her that I love her and she replies. Today, she said it first.

Today, the reality hit again that a school shooting could happen anywhere. This morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” broadcasters said the affected high school is one of the best in Florida, and nothing like this has ever affected the community in which it operates. It happened to Columbine in Littleton, Colorado, nearly 20 years ago. It happened nearly six years ago in Sandy Hook in Connecticut. It happened in small-town schools in Washington state. The list goes on — too many to mention, unfortunately.

In the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy, then-Vice President Al Gore spoke at a memorial service. He noted that parents can stop the violence and hate that affects our society.

“In a culture rife with violence — where too many young people place too little value on a human life — we can rise up and we can say, ‘No more!’ ” Gore said, according to his speech found on the website www.americanrhetoric.com.

He went on to say that society has seen enough of violence in schools — this was nearly 20 years ago — and that “We must replace a culture of violence and mayhem with one of values and meaning. … more discipline and character in our schools, and more alternatives to drugs and crimes … recognize the earliest signs of trouble, and teach our children to resolve their differences with reason and conscience. We can do something about that.”

There’s a lot to be done — on the home front, in schools and on the governmental levels. Really do something. Don’t just talk about making changes, but actually making changes — at home, at school and in our government.

God bless the students, families and staff affected in Florida, and God bless America.