Since the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month, notable people from all over the world have expressed support for the students who survived the attack — including Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. The Obamas have publicly sent well-wishes and messages of support for the survivors who are rallying against gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting on more than one occasion. And, as it turns out, the former first couple privately mailed the students a letter expressing their support earlier this month. The Obamas' letter to the Parkland shooting survivors says a lot about the couple — not only that they support young advocates and gun safety, but it also shows how they are respecting a particular wish of the Parkland survivors who are organizing the March For Our Lives.
The letter, dated March 10, 2018, and handwritten on Barack and Michelle Obama's letterhead, was obtained and published by Mic on Wednesday. It's unclear how the outlet got a copy of the letter.
"To the students of Parkland —" the letter begins, "We wanted to let you know how inspired we have been by the resilience, resolve and solidarity that you have all shown in the wake of unspeakable tragedy."
The letter continues:
Not only have you supported and comforted each other, but you’ve helped awaken the conscience of the nation, and challenged decision-makers to make the safety of our children the country’s top priority.
Throughout our history, young people like you have led the way in making America better. There may be setbacks; you may sometimes feel like progress is too slow in coming. But we have no doubt you are going to make an enormous difference in the days and years to come, and we will be there for you.
It is then signed Barack and Michelle Obama.
Obama first sent a message to the survivors the day after the attack, via Twitter. Unlike the tweet President Donald Trump posted that same day, President Obama's tweet called for gun safety laws, explaining that the United States need to prioritize common-sense gun safety legislation in order to make lasting change.
Just days after the Feb. 14 attack, when a gunman opened fire and killed 17 students and teachers at the Florida high school, a group of students who survived the attack announced the March For Our Lives. On Feb. 22, Obama applauded the students organizing the march. He told the students: "We've been waiting for you. And we've got your backs."
On Feb. 21, Michelle Obama tweeted that she was "in total awe of the extraordinary students in Florida," adding that she and Barack were behind the survivors and their efforts towards gun reform.
While the Parkland students undoubtedly appreciated the Obamas' tweets, it's likely that their letter meant even more to them. On Feb. 20, New York Times reporter Julie Turkewitz rode a bus with Parkland students to Tallahassee, where survivors were headed to meet with lawmakers. In the days before the bus ride, celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and George and Amal Clooney donated $500,000 to the March For Our Lives. Turkewitz tweeted that students on the bus were apprehensive about Clooney's support.
"The minute some people on the right see these millionaire names pop up with our movement, it’s going to kind of alienate them," Chris Grady, 18, said on the bus. “The minute they don’t see our faces anymore and they just see the Hollywood elite, they’re going to stop taking it seriously.”
So even though the students definitely appreciate the public support and donations from A-listers, they likely appreciate the Obamas' secluded letter even more. It shows that Obamas were listening, and that they truly respect and support the work the Parkland students are doing. The people of Twitter evidently agree, as many took to the social media platform, sharing their appreciation of the classy couple's letter:
We miss you, Mom and Dad. ❤️
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