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Kayla Fowler, Location: Abroad

Rise Up

My friends are safe.

But they will never forget that day.

My friends are safe.

But they will never forget those hours.

My friends are safe.

But they will never forget the sound of panicked breaths, of phones buzzing on silent, of screams in the distance, of shots echoing through the air.

Who is safe?

They will never forget.

They will never forget the President of the United States sending condolences to their classmates, and their classmates' friends, and their classmates' families.

They will never forget the Instagram stories and posts.

They will never forget friends and family members checking in.

They will never forget.

They will never forget the desperation, the anxiety, or the pain.

Or the fear.

They will never forget #SpartanStrong, and they will never forget why it was said.

They are safe but they are numb.

They are alive but they are broken.

They are changed, forever.

Now, they are the change.

Rise up for Brian, and Alexandria, and Arielle.

Rise up for Parkland.

Rise up for Columbine.

Rise up for Sandy Hook, and Uvalde, and Oakland, and Santa Monica, and Roseburg, and Santa Fe.

Rise up for Robb Elementary School, and for the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, and for Florida A&M University.

Rise up for Oxford.

Rise up for Northern Illinois, and for Virginia Tech, and for Grambling State, and for the University of Virginia.

Rise up for Michigan State.

We are Spartan Strong.

Rise up for the victims and the survivors.

Rise up for the mothers and fathers who never got to pick up their child from school.

Rise up for the sisters and brothers who are left an only child.

Rise up for the people who are not just a statistic - who are students, coworkers, colleagues, teammates, and individuals.

Rise up for the families and the friends that don't know how to move on, and maybe never will.

Rise up for them.

Rise up.

Rise together for the chance to make a difference.

Rise up.

To my fellow Spartans: my heart breaks for you. I was abroad at the time of the shooting and cannot imagine what it must have been like. This poem - meant to be spoken word - is a reflection of my relief that my friends survived, my devastation at hearing the news, and my frustration at how often a tragedy like this occurs. Thankful to Kirin Krafthefer for running with the idea to collect these stories so the Spartan community can heal and recover together. Thinking of you all. Spartan Strong. Go Green.

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