Parkland Proud: thousands turn out to honor victims at vigil

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Students Thursday night said their lives are going to be changed forever.

They placed flowers and candles at the edge of the stage in Parkland to honor their fallen classmates and teachers, and to begin to heal as one community.

Thousand of candles illuminated the Parkland Amphitheater where an overflowing crowd wearing school colors wiped each other’s tears as the names of 17 victims were read aloud.

It was also the moment when the father of 14-year-old Jamie Guttenberg recalled his final moments with his daughter.

“I sent her to school yesterday. She was supposed to be safe. My job is to protect my children and I sent my kid to school,” he said. “In the morning, sometimes things get so crazy she runs out behind (and) she says I gotta go dad bye. I don’t always get to say I love you. I don’t remember if I said that to Jaime yesterday morning.”

Friends and family members brought flowers. Religious leaders offered prayers and support for students. And survivors cheered for the bravery of teachers and first responders.

“It was a terrible tragedy that we lived through yesterday. And we will continue to work through,” said a speaker at the vigil.

Students begged for the violence to end, and for the community to rebuild as one.

“What happened at that moment will forever be in our heart. We will not forget it, we will always remember it. But let me make this clear. Our kids are amazing, our eagles will soar and we are Parkland proud,” said one of the speakers at the vigil.

One of the grief counselors on scene says he’s going to have every student write on a Post-It note one good deed they plan to do in honor of the victims.

Rebuilding has begun.

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