Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired Adm. William McRaven — formerly the nation’s top special operations officer, praised the young US citizens who marched for justice in the wake of a tragic school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead and called for action on gun control.
“Our next generation of young Americans are calling for inclusion in finding solutions to keep our children safe,” Dempsey, former President Barack Obama’s top military adviser, wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “I’m proud of them. They are right, they should be heard, we should listen, and we should act.”
Moments later, McRaven, the former commander of the US Special Operations Command and helped plan the 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden, put out his own statement on Twitter: “This is exactly what we need the youth of America to do: to stand strong, to stand together, to challenges the laws that have not served them well.”
“I have witnessed the Millennials in action on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and I have seen the nation’s remarkable teenagers as they work to earn a place in our college classrooms,” McRaven added.
McRaven wrote that he has “learned to respect and admire their personal courage, their perseverance, and their sense of fellowship,” but added that his respect has taken on a new character in the wake of the Florida shooting.
“When the classroom became a battlefield, these young Americans seemed to rise to even greater heights; sacrificing their lives for their fellow students, consoling the families of the fallen, inspiring a community to action,” wrote McRaven, referring to students, some as young as 15, who died protecting their classmates from gunfire.
He said the wave of student protests and calls for political action to address gun violence have inspired him.
“I could not be prouder of them!” McRaven wrote of the students. “This is exactly what we need the youth of America to do: to stand strong, to stand together, to challenge the laws that have not served them well.”
A message about the inspiring students in Florida and across our nation: pic.twitter.com/XCkSoIGBaZ
— Bill McRaven (@billmcraven) February 22, 2018
Since the shooting, the surviving students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida have made daily media appearances and advocated for action on gun control, which has been politically unproductive for years.
Former President Barack Obama listed failure to pass meaningful gun control laws during his terms as a major regret. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced plans to pursue comprehensive background checks with an emphasis on mental health following the student protests.
As of now, it seems like the Parkland students have found an audience for their activism and many who served in uniform want to stand alongside them. And so are the vast majority of Americans.