Like so many other people, Anthony Rizzo was left searching for solutions after a shooting at his high school alma mater in Florida left 17 students dead and 15 others seriously wounded. All the Chicago Cubs first baseman knew, really, after a gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon was that he was overwhelmed with a need to be grieving along with the community in Parkland, Fla.
So Rizzo got permission from the Cubs to leave their spring training site in Arizona and headed east, where he joined a candlelight vigil for the victims Thursday night at the Parkland Amphitheater and spoke movingly of the need for change and gave “whatever comfort I can give.”
“While I don’t have all the answers, I know that something has to change, before this is visited on another community, and another community, and another community,” said Rizzo, a 2007 graduate.
“I come home to Parkland to what should be everybody’s first concern, and that’s showing our kids out there — the students at Stoneman Douglas and of Broward County and from all over the country — that we care about their lives and about their future,” Rizzo said. “I’ve been very impressed with talking to the students and how they’re taking care of each other and how they’re coming together. I’m so grateful to the teachers, the coaches, the administration and all the first responders that tried to protect them.”
Rizzo joined spiritual leaders, government officials and family members of those who were killed.
“I am only who I am because of this community,” Rizzo said. “And I just want all of you to know how proud I am to be a part of this community. I want you to know that you’re not alone in your grief. We’re all grieving with you. The entire country is grieving with you. So whatever comfort I can give, I will give. Whatever support I can offer to our students, teachers, coaches and families and first responders, you’ll have it.”
President Trump plans to visit Parkland and urged greater attentiveness to mental health issues while Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and others pleaded for changes to gun laws. Although Nikolas Cruz, the accused gunman, purchased the AR-15 assault rifle legally, Parkland students added their voices to the chorus calling for change.
“Please, take action. Ideas are great. Ideas are wonderful and they help you get reelected and everything,” senior David Hogg said on CNN. “But what’s more important is actual action … that results in saving thousands of children’s lives. Please, take action.”
Rizzo addressed what comes next for the community, when the media leaves and the funerals are over.
“I promise you we’re going to be mourning, grieving and a bit broken for a while,” Rizzo said. “We’re human, but I promise the cameras are going to move on. The demands of everyday life will intrude again. Classes will start again. The seasons are gonna change, and the sun is going to rise. And all we’ll have left is each other.
“We don’t know who’s hiding their sadness or feelings of guilt and loneliness, or who needs help and is too proud or afraid to ask. So we have to be there for each other, we have to cope with our pain, and we have to live each other’s pain. We have to be the best possible versions of ourselves.”
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