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This past Saturday started with a protest march and ended with a first birthday party for my great-niece. The day crossed both ends of the spectrum. A sense of death and mourning for lives lost in violent shootings. A breath of life and hope in celebration of the growth of a beloved child. The contrast was fierce.

My friend invited me to go to one of the local March for Our Lives events to protest gun violence in schools. She made signs for us and headed to a Huntington Beach park. From there, hundreds of people, all ages and stages, walked along Main Street to City Hall. At city hall, high school students gave moving speeches. We were part of an international protest on this day.

We should not be in this place. All students are entitled to a free education – free from fear of being shot. We have got to do more to address this issue. I felt vulnerable just being out in the open in a crowd. I don’t have the answer, but I had to do something. So we marched.

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 5 - Enid & Cindi Ready to March

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 6 - Cindi

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 7 - Enid

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 8 - Vegas Survivor

She survived the Vegas Shooting.

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 11 - Park Start

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 12 - Enid Marching

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 13 - Cindi on March

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 14 - Walking Down Sidewalk

2018-3-24 AM March for Our Lives, Huntington Beach 19 - Civic Center 2

After the march, I attended the fun and lighthearted birthday party of my great-niece. She turned one this past week and we celebrated with family on Saturday afternoon. She’s been with us for twelve months. Twelve precious months. I really enjoyed watching her enjoy her cake. As she sorts out the world and continues to learn and grow, I pray schools are safer by the time she is old enough for school.

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 18 - Cindi & Abby with Cake

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 3 - Family Fun 1

2018-3-24 Abby's 1st Birthday Party 14 - Cake Face

My other great-niece was at the party, visiting on her spring break from Northern California. She is fifteen and a sophomore in high school. I desperately want safe schools for her, too. Not only that, I want both these girls to grow up in a world where all men they meet learn to show respect for them, and to honor them in word and deed. I pray for their protection from risky relationships.

2018-3-24-abbys-1st-birthday-party-5-brianna-curtin-10th-grade-and-kingston.jpg

I pray one day the world is a better place for all to live. We can do better. We have to do better. For all the girls. For all the children. We’ve got work to do.

Stay charming, my friends! We can make a difference.

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