President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offered some inspiring words of encouragement to the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
"We wanted to let you know how inspired we have been by the resilience, resolve and solidarity that you have all shown in the wake of unspeakable tragedy," the Obamas wrote in a handwritten letter.
They added, "Not only have you supported and comforted each other, but you’ve helped awaken the conscience of the nation, and challenged decision-makers to make the safety of our children the country’s top priority."
Perhaps responding to the harsh criticisms that some of the Parkland survivors have received from conservatives for protesting in favor of stricter gun control laws, the Obamas made a point of praising their youthfulness and arguing that young people are often ahead of the curve when it comes to important social justice issues.
"Throughout our history, young people like you have led the way in making America better," the Obamas wrote. "There may be setbacks; you may sometimes feel like progress is too slow in coming. But we have no doubt you are going to make an enormous difference in the days and years to come, and we will be there for you."
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, Obama was determined to pass meaningful gun control legislation and made doing so a priority of his second term. Unfortunately, a combination of NRA lobbying and Republican control of Congress — first just the House of Representatives and then, after the 2014 midterm elections, the Senate — rendered that impossible for him.
"If you ask me where is the one area where I feel that I have been most frustrated and most stymied, it is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient, common sense, gun safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings," Obama told the BBC in 2015.