Here's How One #EmptySeat Represents All the Lives Lost to Guns (PHOTOS)

empty chair

First Lady Michelle Obama decided to share her box with several honored guests -- and an empty chair -- at this year's State of the Union address. This empty seat honors victims of gun violence, and Americans have taken to social media to share the heartbreaking stories behind their own empty places.


The White House explained:

We leave one seat empty in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice — because they need the rest of us to speak for them. To tell their stories. To honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence — survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it's their responsibility to do something about this.

"It's a beautiful and heartbreaking gesture by the Obama administration to do this," Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, told ThinkProgress. "Unfortunately, my family knows all about the empty seat at the table."

And, unfortunately, so do all too many people in our country. Here are just some of the images and words being shared to express solidarity with the president's efforts to enact sensible gun laws in our nation.

Caren Teves, who in her Twitter bio writes that she is the "mom of true hero Alex Teves ... one of 12 beautiful lives tragically taken in Aurora theater shooting," shared this:

Also shared were these beautiful faces, lost to mass shootings:

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There are tweets in honor of those lost to domestic violence:

And to violent crimes:

And suicides:

And tweets where the story isn't as clear -- but the losses are just as heartbreaking ... all due to gun violence:

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It's breathtaking to think that these stories, these photos, these endless heartbreaks, represent a minuscule drop in the ocean of lives that have been lost in our country at the point of a gun.

How many of us have our own empty seat? And how many more of us will?


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