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Parkland Father Shares What This Holiday Season Has Been Like Since The Death Of His Son

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

For some families, this is the first holiday season that they are trying to get through after suffering tremendous loss. Max Schachter had sent his son, Alex, to school on Valentine's Day this year and never saw him alive again. Alex was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. He was 14 years old.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

His death brought Max both grief and new purpose. He has become an advocate for safer schools and joined a Florida commission that studied every second of that massacre in order to make recommendations to the state legislature.

CHANG: The Schachters recently celebrated Hanukkah. And we asked Max to reflect on this first holiday season without Alex.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MAX SCHACHTER: The holidays were a wonderful time for all of our family to be together. We normally celebrate Hanukkah in Weston with Alex's other grandparents. And he loved to eat, you know, steak, matzo ball soup, corned beef. He ate everything. Last year for New Year's, we were able to go to Las Vegas, and he loved Vegas. It was really, really exciting. We went to some great shows. And it's just sad to look through the pictures. And when you go places, you know, the phones nowadays have so much technology and you get all these pop-ups that say, you know, memories of the past. And, you know, Alex is always in them.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCHACHTER: I put my life on hold. I put my job on hold to dedicate my life to making sure that this didn't happen again. And if it did, we're able to mitigate the casualties and save lives moving forward. And so ever since Alex was murdered, I've become very involved, you know, in Washington. I volunteered to be on the commission that's investigating the massacre on February 14. Even though it's extremely painful to relive, it's important to me that I honor his memory by, No. 1, finding out what happened and also holding those people accountable who didn't do their job and contributed to letting this violent individual come into that school and murder 17 beautiful souls.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCHACHTER: All of these first holidays without Alex and all these first experiences, you know, whether they're birthdays without Alex - you know, my daughter, Avery, just had a birthday, and I'm taking the picture and, you know, it's without my little boy, and it's just so, so sad. You know, I wish I could go back in time and not have sent him to school that day. I feel bad that his brother and his sisters don't have him in their lives anymore.

KELLY: Max Schachter - his son, Alex, was one of 17 people who died in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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