It was 17 minutes of silence for 17 victims.
But it represented more than that.
While hundreds of students sat outside the White House and movingly remembered the victims of last month’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the lost lives of many more also loomed large.
Dubbed the “Mass Shooting Generation”, since Parkland these teenagers are saying enough is enough, and have formed a grassroots movement demanding gun reform in America.
Today, in an unprecedented national walkout, students left their classrooms across the country to protest against gun violence.
A large-scale rally for gun control will be held in Washington DC on March 24. Another walkout will be held to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre on April 20.
Students are calling for tighter background checks and bans on assault rifles along with higher age limits for gun purchases.
They are inspired, they are tough but they are also scared to go to school. They’re determined to be heard.
‘Something needs to be done’
“I think all these sentiments were there before Parkland, but I think the fact that Parkland mirrored the high school that I attend … it really could be one of us in the future,” Amarins Laanstra-Corn said.
“It really feels like there needs to be something done about this so it doesn’t happen again and I feel like the fact that the movement is led by students — led by youth — and we can now vote, we can now have a voice.”
‘I want to go to school without being afraid’
“We should be able to go to school without being afraid of someone coming up and hurting students and teachers,” Claudia Riviera said.
“They should do background checks, make sure no-one is mentally ill or unstable and, honestly, we need more gun control because I want to be able to go to school without being afraid of what’s going to happen.
“You never know the people at your school and what they are capable of so it is just a very scary thought.
“It sucks to always have to be cautious about everything, what happens around you.”
‘We can do something’
“In Japan and Australia, when they were given the more restrictions on who can buy guns — like checking mental health and making sure people know how to use firearms — it [the situation] changed. Statistics changed,” Marianne Fessel said.
“It’s facts and it’s what people know. And I don’t know why we can’t do anything about it.
“This is why we’re here today and we’re here together for more gun reform cause we can do something.”
‘They can’t protect us’
“Honestly ever since this happened, the last mass shooting at school, I haven’t been [feeling safe], I really don’t,” Briana Vaca said.
“I trust that our security is very safe but I’m always stressed out now, cause I don’t know what’s going to happen … they can’t protect us all the time from this.
“I think that if gun rules are stronger and people … follow them strictly, I think that I’d feel a lot better.”