Honoring Lives Lost

By Michael R. Malone

Honoring Lives Lost

By Michael R. Malone
A vigil on the University of Miami campus, organized by UM students who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, honors those lost in the “senseless attack.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumnus and University of Miami senior Alex Margetts stood at the podium atop “The Rock,” a floral wreath and 17 maroon and white candles on the steps before him.

One by one he read out the names of the 17 people who died in the “senseless attack” at his alma mater, pausing often, his voice breaking, as fellow alumni lit the candles.

Margetts was one of several speakers who addressed a gathering of hundreds, mostly University students, who turned out for an evening vigil held in the heart of campus on February 20 to “honor the lives lost and hold true their memory.”

Maya Lubarsky, also a Douglas alumna and UM senior, opened the solemn ceremony.

“Tonight we’re here to honor the 17 brave lives that were taken before their time,” she said, adding that “my teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas taught me that I had a voice and tonight I’m using it to honor those lost from this senseless attack that’s shaken our nation.”

Patricia Whitely, vice president for Student Affairs, praised the Douglas alumni now at UM for their initiative to coordinate the vigil and “for moving our community to love our neighbors.”

Whitely also highlighted the heroic efforts of Scott Beigel, the geography teacher who had studied education at UM and was shot and killed in the February 14 mass shooting at the Broward County high school when he unlocked his classroom door to let students in for protection.

“Scott died embodying our ‘Canes Care for ‘Canes’ movement,” Whitely said, urging “that we look out for each other at this time that’s so difficult for everyone.” She reminded those in attendance of the many resources available through the University.

Catherine de Freitas, another MSDHS alumna and junior at UM, said it was important that “we do not let these 17 beautiful angels die in vain.” Freitas, recently elected student government vice president, said she is moved and inspired by the Mahatma Gandhi maxim emblazoned on the walls of the Parkland high school that she passed every day: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

UM freshman Ally Rosenberg remembered “the amazing beautiful smile of her little cousin,” Alex Schachter. He and family friend Jaime Guttenberg were among the victims. “Your life should not end from an assault rifle in a place that should be safe,” Rosenberg said.  

Elijah Horesh, a UM senior and one of the vigil coordinators, said that he’d felt “terror and hopelessness through the week,” but that, like many, his mood was shifting.

“We want to turn our grief into action and this tragedy into change,” he said, adding that the group would be announcing their next steps in the coming weeks.