If one visits Thiepval in France or Tyne Cot in Belgium, one sees seemingly endless rows of names etched in stone. These are the war dead, the young men who died in battle during WW I. Here it is normal to see the names of men still in their teens when their lives were brutally cut short — by cannon fire, gunfire or chemical poisoning.
Last week, Colorado lost an 18-year-old hero. His name was Kendrick Castillo. Sometimes you can just tell from someone’s picture what kind of person he is. Kendrick Castillo’s smile and eyes reveal a beautiful soul. His actions, sacrificing himself to protect friends and classmates at STEM School, are further testimony, if any further testimony were needed.
Kendrick Castillo was a child with his whole future ahead of him — and from all accounts it would have been an extremely bright one. He was smart, talented — and caring. The kind of qualities every parent hopes to instill in their children.
Kendrick Castillo shouldn’t have had to die a hero. Children shouldn’t be called upon to prevent “worse tragedies,” to quote Gov. Polis. Children should be able to celebrate their graduation and embark on their futures.
Kendrick Castillo should be honored for his sacrifice — but we, as a society, should never accept that as a norm. We must do everything in our power — from regulating access to firearms to ensuring scrupulous attention to mental health in our schools — to uproot this evil epidemic that has taken root.
Kendrick Castillo shouldn’t have had to be a hero. There is a place where, sadly, it’s foreseen that 18-year-olds will die heroes. It’s called a battlefield. Is that what our schools have become?
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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