Dressed in the maroon and silver colors of their high school alma mater, a group of Boston-area alums of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gathered on Boston Common Saturday afternoon to participate in the local version of the national March for Our Lives rally.
From the moment they’d heard about the event, the group — many of whom had met via social media in the days following the Feb. 14 shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school — had felt drawn by a sense of duty.
“It didn’t feel like a choice,” said Alicia Curran, 34, of Somerville, of the decision to attend Saturday’s rally. She is a 2001 graduate of the school, which lost 17 people on that February day. “Our students are out there fighting for change, we owe them to stand behind them.”
On Saturday morning, the alums, along with friends and family, met at the Haley House Bakery Cafe in Roxbury to have breakfast and make signs. From there, the group of nearly 50 marched to Boston Common, joining thousands of protesters under an overcast sky for a two-hour rally that hit particularly close to home for them.
Jodi Sherman of Pittsfield, a 2001 graduate of Stoneman Douglas, stood among a massive throng of people on the Common, surveying the throng of students near the stage, where a collection of speakers were taking turns.
“It’s amazing that all of this is because of our school and our students,” she said.
In the more than a month since their former high school became a tragic part of the national lexicon, the alumni have been struggling with a mix of emotions. Some have felt unsure of how, exactly, to talk about what happened. Some have struggled with the unnerving reality of hearing their quiet little hometown becoming a constant topic of national news.
But they’ve also been amazed at the poise shown by the high school’s current students — a couple of whom have become household names thanks to their vigorous calls for change — and Saturday’s rally, they said, was a chance to honor that.
“In the first 24 hours [after the shooting], it was like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening again, and nothing’s going to happen,’ ” said Erin Heim, 28, of Somerville. “And then I realized pretty immediately that that wasn’t the case.”
Using social media, they began connecting online following the shooting, then in person.
And on Saturday they stood on the Common, dressed in Stoneman Douglas colors, doing what they could for the movement.
“No one would choose this,” said 1997 Stoneman Douglas graduate Rick Healey. “But we can’t shirk the responsibility.”Dugan Arnett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.