The winter is spreading its wings and taking us right into the middle of December, a month that brings joy and hope with it. But this time the month brought sorrow and grief. December 16th has arrived with all its pain. Last year, we lost 141 precious lives that included 132 innocent schoolchildren on this black day. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of Pakistan. The horrendous incident left all of us speechless. Children were killed inhumanly and teachers were shot down in front of their students.

Uzair Ali, a student of 8th grade, shielded his friends by lying on top of them when attackers came and saved some of his companions. Fahad Hussain, a 14-year-old boy, saved his class fellows by opening a door so they could run out. He was brutally killed while doing so. Bahram Ahmad Khan, a student of 10th grade, lost his life when he came back to save his friend who lost his glasses and could barely see anything.

Along with students, teachers also fought with courage. Sofia Hijab, a 42-year-old teacher, managed to come out of the auditorium safely but she went back to save her injured students before attackers shot her. Hafsa Khush, a 23-year-old young teacher, was shot and killed while she was helping her injured students run away from the terrorists.  The principal of APS Peshawar, Mrs. Tahira Qazi, lost her life as she refused to leave the school until the last child was rescued.

These are a few stories that I mentioned. From a grade 1 student to the principal of the school, everyone in APS Peshawar knows the meaning of unity, sacrifice and bravery. 141 is not just the number of dead people. It’s the number of stories that need to be told and remembered till the day of judgement.

People changed their profile pictures and cover photos to black and monogram of Army Public School & College System (APSACS) and updated status on social media condemning the attack and showing solidarity with the victims and their families. After one year, people are doing the same in order to tell the world that we do not forget our children, who fought bravely and to tell their families that we are with them in this painful time.

Once again videos are made, profile pictures are changed, statuses are updated and APS alumni wore their green and white uniforms to remember the sacrifices of both children and teachers of APS Peshawar. This is the best way to send out a message to the terrorists that we are still united as one nation and we are not afraid of them.

But my question is that what should be done to actually keep those children alive not just in history but in future too? These 141 souls are not with us but their spirits are still alive. Their spirits are the guiding light for this country to follow. If we read their stories, we will realize that these brave children left a message for all of us.

A message of unity; a message of fighting against evil and not giving up; a message of putting yourself after others; a message of helping others no matter what the situation is. It is not just the incident but a story of bravery and kindness.

All those kids who lost their lives in this terrible terror attack had some ambitions in life. Everyone had their own set of goals which they wanted to achieve. But unfortunately they didn’t get a chance to fulfill their dreams. Now it is our duty to make their ambitions ours.

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They didn’t get a chance to study, but we do. Many of us are blessed to have education in prestigious institutions, but we do not avail this golden opportunity. We waste both our time and parent’s money and don’t take our studies seriously. Education is the only tool from which we can fight against all evils.

Also, there are so many people around us who cannot afford to have proper education. It is observed that people with no education are easily manipulated and it’s easy to involve them in terror activities. We should help them financially in order to provide them with education in proper schools and colleges.

Secondly, the most important message they leave behind is to set aside our differences and be united as one nation. It was observed that during this attack, children as well as their teachers tried to save each other without thinking about their own lives. Pakistan can only flourish if we put national benefit first instead of our own interests. When we learn to do this, we will overcome each and every problem that we face nowadays.

141 departed souls of APS Peshawar leave a guiding light for Pakistan. Now it’s our turn to follow that light.