In the weeks following the deadliest high school shooting in United States history, editors and reporters for Lifestyle reached out to dozens of people whose lives were forever altered by what happened inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. We interviewed the officer who made the arrest and the sheriff who’s under fire. We spoke to student activists and students from a high school in west Boca Raton who walked 12 miles in a show of solidarity. We met survivors of a mass shooting in Orlando and survivors from the third floor at MSD. We attended an emotional town hall with members of the Parkland community. And we listened as grieving parents and heartbroken friends and family told us about their loved ones.
We’re deeply honored to share their words with our readers.
Alaina Petty’s older brother, Patrick, raised his hand in a salute to his mother, Kelly, after he presented her with an American flag following graveside services for the freshman at MSD. The flag had been draped over his younger sister’s casket, hand-delivered by a serviceman in a U.S. Army uniform before the funeral on Feb. 19 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Alaina, a member of the school’s junior ROTC, also posthumously received the U.S. Army’s Medal of Heroism at the services. But her family—mother, Kelly; father, Ryan; brothers Ian and Patrick, also a student at Douglas; and sister, Meghan—said that anyone who knew Alaina understood that she wouldn’t expect a medal or accolades for her thoughtful, compassionate nature.
“Alaina loved to serve,” her family wrote in a prepared statement.
She joined the junior ROTC program at school because it was a way for her to honor her country and contribute to her community, her family said. She traveled as a volunteer with the church’s Helping Hands program to Everglades City and to the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma to help those affected by the natural disaster.
“She understood her service could bring some measure of happiness to people who had lost everything,” Ryan says. There’s no doubt, he believes, that Alaina is continuing her good will. “Alaina’s mortal probation is completed, but her eternal service is beginning.”
—Michelle F. Solomon