The same day three weeks ago that Texas recoiled in grief and horror over the shooting deaths of 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, there was a graduation ceremony for the class of 2022 in Katy, about 250 miles east.
Cecilia Gullett was among the graduating seniors. She sent Texas Standard these thoughts about celebrating a school accomplishment so shortly after a massive school tragedy.
I walked across stage to receive my diploma with the Texas and American flag at half mast, and all I could think was that I was doing something those 19 children would never get to do, that I survived nearly 12 years of Texas public education without witnessing the horrors of gun violence other than on the TV and how lucky I was for that. My graduation ceremony did nothing else to acknowledge the atrocity that occurred earlier in the day, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t on our minds. The entire evening was so bittersweet, hugging my friends, saying goodbye to teachers, posting photos of the event on social media, yet feeling like I was being insensitive to the tragedy because I live in a time where not uploading something or tweeting about an issue is perceived as synonymous with not caring about it.
But I do care about it. Even though I no longer have to worry about my classroom’s presumed safety being violated, I have two younger sisters who still have years of lockdown and active shooter drills ahead of them before they, too, are free.
I love Texas; I love the diversity and the food and the accent and its beautiful nature, but in times like these, loving Texas can be so, so difficult when I don’t feel like I’m a priority to the people my fellow Texans voted for. Within a week of turning 18, I registered to vote, vowing to myself that as long I lived in Texas, I would vote in every election possible no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, because for too long Republicans have tried to limit progressive residents from voting by making our right as citizens as inconvenient as possible, but I just can’t tolerate that anymore.
I wanted to reach out to you guys about my story and feelings toward the shooting in Uvalde after hearing your segment this morning (June 2nd) about different residents throughout the state sharing their thoughts and asking listeners to send in theirs. I hope a change will be made soon, and I hope new, young voters like me will help set it in motion.