One year later, Parkland families still trying to heal: ‘I have to fight to get through the day’

PARKLAND, Fla. -- The group gathered at the flower-bed memorial for the victims, right at the edge of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  At 10:17 a.m., there was a hushed silence and all thoughts focused on the 17 students and staff slaughtered inside the freshman building on this day last year, Valentine’s Day.

At that time, it was Broward County’s official moment of silence inside every classroom in the district. Students and teachers did the same.

It was a somber day for Parkland, Florida, site of the worst high school mass shooting in U.S. history, now designated as “A Day of Service and Love.” Dozens of MSD students fed breakfast to first responders, to thank them for what they did when they arrived at the school to a site of carnage.  Others gathered at a nearby park to pack meals for needy children.

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It has been a very long year for the families who lost their sons and daughters, like Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was taken from him that day.

“The families, like myself, we live it every day, so February 14th doesn’t make a difference to me,” said Pollack.  “I wake up in the morning and my daughter’s not there and I have to feel that pain all through the day. Every day, I have to fight to get through the day.”

Pollack has been focused on holding people accountable – the Broward School Board and superintendent as well as coaches at the school and the school’s resource officer who never stormed the building.

For Ashley Kurth, an MSD teacher who helped hide running and screaming children as the chaos unfolded, it’s been a long year filled with various waves of anxiety.

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“Probably the roller coaster of emotions. A lot more severe (today) than over the past week where it’s been more of the ebb and flow,” she said.  “A lot of it has just been the anger and the feeling of—not helplessness—but just loss of control.

The former student and confessed killer, 20-year-old Nikolas Cruz, remains locked up and is awaiting trial. Prosecutors hope to put him on Florida’s death row.

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Meanwhile in Washington, several U.S. Senators, including both of Florida’s, introduced a new bill called the Eagles Act, which would help fund programs for school districts nationwide to better identify threats and intervene, before mass murder happens.