I added some names this week to those I’m following on Twitter:

Delaney Tarr. Emma Gonzalez. Cameron Kasky. David Hogg.

Until recently, I’d never heard of any of them. And I certainly never expected to follow them. But that was before the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School changed everything. And kids like Delaney and Emma and Cameron and David were suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

And into my consciousness.

The four are among the many Douglas students who’ve stepped up to trigger one of the most powerful calls for gun reform we’ve seen since Sandy Hook. They’ve found a collective voice that is reverberating across the United States, as they make their case to anyone who will listen. And those who don't want to.

These kids — and make no mistake, they are kids — are so articulate, so passionate, so poised, so eloquent that it’s hard to believe they’re still in their teens. It’s even harder when you realize that just 11 days ago, they lost 17 of their friends and teachers and survived a living hell that, blessedly, most of us will never see.

The fact that they can go out there and speak of what should happen #NeverAgain moves me beyond anything I’ve seen for a long, long time.

It also astounds me. When I think back to high school, I like to think my friends and I were pretty mature. Truth is we didn’t have a whole lot to deal with. Sure, there was Vietnam, but while the guys in my class had to register, they didn’t Have To Go.

Besides, even if we felt strongly about The War, Freetown and Lakeville weren’t exactly hotbeds of social unrest. During our senior year at Apponequet, the heaviest things we talked about were applying to college or looking for a job.

It never, for a moment, occurred to us that someone — maybe even One of Us — could shatter our safe little space and fill the AHS corridors with bullets from semi-automatic rifles.

That our school could become a killing field.

But that is what Delaney and Emma and Cameron and David and so many other Parkland teens have had to face. And what students across America have to fear.

Because they — and all of us — are living in the kind of world we never thought we’d see.

At heart, I am an optimistic person. But with each passing day, it’s harder and harder not to get sucked down by the bad and sad stuff that keeps on happening.

The horror of the Florida school shooting only adds to the despair.

Yet, there is a light within the dark. It bears the names of Delaney and Emma and Cameron and David and all their peers who have so courageously — and so unexpectedly — emerged to carry the torch.

A torch of much-needed Hope. Hope for the future.