As grieving family and friends come to terms with the horrific Parkland, Florida shooting that left 17 dead, the U.S. Army has decided to step in with its own form of recognition for three of the victims.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, the Medal of Heroism is being granted in honor of three Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets who were fatally shot by shooter Nikolas Cruz, who opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week.
Earlier this week, the Army presented the medal to the families of Alaina Petty, 14, and Peter Wang, 15, during their memorial services. The family of Martin Duque, 14, is scheduled to receive his medal during his memorial service on Saturday.
The medals are in honor of recognizing those cadets whose performance “involved the acceptance of danger and extraordinary responsibilities,” aiming to promote the courage the cadets displayed in the wake of such a tragedy.
Reports state that all three students worked to protect their classmates from harm, with Wang’s actions especially drawing media attention after it was revealed he’d put himself in harm’s way by holding the door open for fellow classmates during the shooting, delaying his own escape and possibly resulting in his death.
Military veterans joined Wang’s memorial on Tuesday, whose friends said his goal and dream was to attend West Point military academy to be of “service to our country.”
Fellow students and friends posted to social media about the victims, recalling their courage and the light they brought into others’ lives.
“He is so funny, caring and selfless,” students told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about Wang, whose older cousin added the 15-year-old was incredibly “brave.”
Petty’s mother also cherished her daughter as she told the Sentinel that Petty was “excited to be part of the female color guard team and every day she would come home and tell me all the fun things she had learned.”
Duque was also praised by family members as a regular churchgoer and an avid football fan, whose affectionate memory would always be remembered.
“He was sweet, affectionate and loved by his entire family. But above all else, he was my little brother,” Duque’s brother Miguel wrote on a GoFundMe page, which the family set up to help cover funeral expenses.
Amid the grief and shock of the lingering tragedy, anger has fueled the conversation around gun control and mass shootings — Florida just one of many this year alone.
Numerous family and friends have voiced their opinion on what they feel Congress should do next regarding the issue, with departments such as the FBI feeling the heat after it was reported they’d known about Cruz’s desire to become a “professional school shooter.”
The bureau failed to follow protocol by transferring a warning to its Miami field office where tips were given about Cruz that would have allowed for an investigation.
According to reports, the FBI was contacted and “provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
And now students throughout the high school are calling on President Donald Trump to do something, reflecting the sentiments of high school staff and others throughout the nation.
“If Trump comes down I think it’s important that he shows us he’s with us,” student Nikhita Nookala said. “I think the death of 17 people should encourage the president to consider [gun] restrictions … There’s been too many school shootings and we don’t need kids to die before they go to college.”
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