‘Thoughts And Prayers Are Not Enough’

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Glen Cove students march for gun control

Glen Cove High School student organizers led the march. (Photo by Mitch Schlimer)

Glen Cove High School students organized a local march and rally on Saturday, March 24, in conjunction with the national March For Our Lives movement demanding changes to gun laws. About 1,000 people marched from Robert M. Finley Middle School to the Glen Cove Police Department, where students and local clergy members delivered a powerful message to the crowd: thoughts and prayers are not enough; action is also necessary for change.

High school student Will Casale, one of the organizers of the event, acted as the emcee during the rally.

“We march in declaration that enough is enough,” said Casale. “When my friends and I first came together, we had no idea how to organize an event like this. All we knew is that something had to be done. Our voices had to be heard.”

A lover of history, he said his knowledge of the subject has given him “perspective to know that our great nation has faced and overcome many daunting challenges before and today, my friends, is the challenge for my generation.”

“We are the generation who has been born into an epidemic of gun violence in our schools,” said Casale. “We are the generation who has been born into an epidemic of political finger pointing while nothing gets done. We are the generation that has been born into active shooter drills in our classrooms, when we should be learning without fear. We are the generation that has been put behind the desires of lobby groups and their money. We are now the generation that says, ‘no more.’”

Morgan Vignali speaks to the crowd.

High school senior Morgan Vignali painted a vivid picture of her nightmare, delivering a tear-jerking speech. With her mother employed at the Glen Cove School District, her father in the Locust Valley School District and her brother a sophomore in high school, the fear of gun violence in school hits too close to home.

“I cannot imagine my life without my family and I can’t even bear the thought of one day possibly losing a loved one while in school, a safe place intended for learning, personal growth and building friendships,” said Vignali. “My brain is not supposed to imagine a time when my life is in danger…this shouldn’t be a concern for any student, but it is.”

A student holds a sign at the rally.

The frequency of mass shootings has “greatly changed” her outlook on life, but she is tired of living in fear.

“My generation has the power to change this; we will not stop until our voices are not only heard, but listened to and acted upon,” said Vignali. “We will keep marching, we will keep yelling, and the second we get the chance, we will start voting.”

Echoing on that sentiment, high school junior Andrew Woska gave an impassioned call to action.

“Prayers are not enough. It is time to take action,” said Woska.

He said he had recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for change and stressed the importance of voting.

His mother, Elisa Woska spoke on behalf of the mothers in the community, expressing the need to support their children as well as protect them.

“We not only have the power to demand change, we have the power to motivate others,” she said.

Other speakers included Rabbi Irwin Huberman of Congregation Tifereth Israel; Rev. Kally Elliott, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Glen Cove, who has four children in the North Shore School District; Rev. Roger Williams of the First Baptist Church of Glen Cove, and high school students Isaiah James, Elijah James, Kylie Jenkins and Juliet Abbondanza. Students Alex Suozzi, Lauren Friedman and Amanda Ieraci read the names of each of victim of last month’s massacre in Parkland, FL.

Between rounds of speakers, Adam Weiss of Sea Cliff sang “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley and “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and Jason Liebman closed the rally with an acoustic version of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” encouraging the crowd to join in, ending the rally on a hopeful note.

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