An Open Letter to Parkland High School Student, Emma Gonzalez, and Friends.
Dear Emma and friends,
I’m writing you as a concerned father of 6 school children, a physician and a citizen.
First, I want you to know how radically impressive the campaign you and your friends are waging is, especially to those of us adults who understand what it takes to rise up against injustice. Your activism is an historic testament to the power of our democracy and of the press.
But I fear for your movement…I fear that young egos will clash amongst your leadership, as they always do no matter how pure any movement…that entrepreneurs will hijack this golden movement you have created for financial gain, as they always do when the public’s attention is directed and money can be made…that your passion will be effectively condescended, by marginal characters like Dana Loesch the NRA’s spokeswoman, as she did during the CNN town hall.
This is what brings me to the purpose of this open letter to you and your friends.
Emma, years before you and your friends bore witness to the horror that moves you to seek justice today — others have fallen victim to similar tragedy.
In particular, I would like you to know about a high school student, in Burke, Virginia who fell victim to the same tragedy. I am sure you can imagine: a 17 year-old high school student bleeding to death from a gun shot wound to his neck — trachea torn open, vocal cord paralyzed, carotid artery injured, bleeding, exsanguinating!
Literally, on what was supposed to be a fun filled evening after his high school’s football game, Joe was choking to death on his own blood.
But on that day in 1994 Joe Sakran did not die — because a few good surgeons saved him.
Instead, he took his pain, his fear, and his fury over what had happened to him — and he focused it all on acquiring the professional voice that was necessary to stop bullets from taking innocent American lives — because he, like you, knows that his life was spared from an atrocity. He knows that he was spared an injustice — and with that knowledge comes a profound responsibility he lives every day now.
So for over 20 years, that high school kid, who was nearly killed has worked methodically, relentlessly and selflessly to advance the movement against gun violence. And, I know for a fact, that he has been anticipating the coming of leaders like you and your friends — because he is one of you. You are his people!
Joe Sakran is now a Trauma Surgeon at the John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. And he is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where he studied public policy.
When you speak to Joe, you will very literally hear the bullet that paralyzed his vocal cord and left him permanently hoarse at 17 years old.
Emma and friends, Dr. Joe Sakran is very certainly one of you.
I know that only the platform you and your colleagues have passionately created can unleash Joe’s hard-earned and rare personal and professional standing to fight a battle that will require the well-developed commitment of the likes of Dr. Joe Sakran!
The only question is if you and your friends will have the foresight to look with care, and claim one of your own — over 20 years waiting in the wings, fighting a methodical fight and acquiring unique and irreproducible powers at the intersection of medicine, public health, and public policy.
I pray that you will beware of the snake oil salesmen and businessmen who aim to score political and financial point using your campaign— for they will corrupt your golden movement as they do always.
I pray for your success and fortitude in selecting the right allies in a fight that must be won — for my children, and others’.