The sky was overcast as I came slowly up the sidewalk.
The wind was gusting out of the northwest, a cold and bitter presence reminding me of my thoughtlessness in not bringing a coat to Colorado on this grim-looking day in May. Enduring the frigid winds, I turned onto a wide path, the head of which was decorated with a low stone wall and a simple sign: “Columbine Memorial.”
April 20, 1999, was a cool, cloudy morning in Littleton, Colo. At Columbine High School, students arrived for a normal school day. But at 11:19, just as the first shift of students began gathering in the cafeteria, shots rang out. Over the next 45 minutes, two students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walked through the school, taunting and then shooting fellow students, some at point-blank range.
In terror, most fled the school, while others hid under desks. The two shooters fired 176 times, saving the last two rounds for themselves. In their wake, 12 students and a teacher were dead. Twentyfour more were wounded.
The shock of this terrible tragedy was felt well beyond the boundaries of this middle-class community. The entire country was in mourning.
It’s been 12 years since that day, a day that fundamentally changed schools forever.
A broad walkway takes you into the memorial between two low stone walls, opening into a circle. To the left is a wall with six openings through which pour a steady stream of water. Straight ahead, three stone and marble arcs mark the center of the memorial. At my feet is a large inlaid ribbon, and the words, “Never Forget.”
On raised sheets of granite are engraved individual memorials to the 13 who were lost that day, written by the parents and families. It is through those words that those13 cease to become names to be read, and become people to be remembered.
Steven Curnow loved to fly. When their airliner hit a bad patch of turbulence, leaving a planeload of white knuckles and weak stomachs., Steven exclaimed, “Wow! That was cool! Let’s do it again! Corey DePooter could make a whole room roar with laughter. He loved the outdoors and wanted to be a Marine Corps officer. For Isaiah Emon Shoels, the love of God was first in his life and “…was taught to love others no matter how they treated him.”
In an excerpt from Lauren Townsend’s diary, she wrote richly of her faith, ending with “I am not afraid of death, for it is only a transition. For in the end, all there is, is love.”
Kelly Ann Fleming had written a poem that started out, “I step outside, what did I hear? I heard the whispers and the cries of the people’s fears.” It ends with the haunting words, “I saw a light and asked myself can that be? When I was turning to walk away, I heard a voice.”
I read about Daniel Mauser’s gentle spirit and shy grin, and his inquisitive nature that “…would challenge you to examine your assumptions about most everything. We are asked to remember teacher Dave Sanders “…for how he lived; and not how he died.”
Daniel Lee Rohrbough’s beautiful blue eyes and infectious laugh. John Tomlin’s gentle disposition that made him an old-fashioned gentleman on dates. Cassie Rene Bernall’s life of faith.
Rachel Joy Scott had declared, “I won’t be labeled as average.”
Kyle Albert Velazquez struggled with learning disabilities, but still taught others about the power of unconditional love. Matthew Kechter loved the outdoors and “…possessed such profound empathy for someone so young.”
Along the wall of the memorial are quotes from teachers, students and parents:
“I no longer take anything for granted.”
“People talk about defining moments in their lives, but I didn’t let this define me.”
“It brought the nation to its knees, but now that we’ve gotten back up, how have things changed? What have we learned?”
“I hope people come here to this place to think about how they themselves can be better people rather than come here to reflect on death.”
Visiting the Columbine Memorial was a profound experience. Walking within that circle and reading the words that are there, brought home to me that in a memorial, remembering names and dates isn’t enough. We must always remember the richness of the lives that were lost.
And how much poorer the world is without them.
Personal Weapon Control
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Palm Beach Politics | Sun Sentinel blogsPalm Beach County Tuesday officially wiped its local gun laws off the books to comply with a state law pushed by the National Rifle Association. The Florida Legislature long held that only the state, not cities and counties, had the......
Palm Beach Politics | Sun Sentinel blogsPalm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson Tuesday gave up his push for a local ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines, like those used in last month???s Tucson shooting. Aaronson just four days earlier had called for a local......
Mayo on the Side: Michael Mayo | Sun Sentinel BlogsOn the eve of the Heat's home opener, superstars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are getting political. But James apparently doesn't know it. Wade was scheduled to appear at a Thursday rally supporting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek....
Tags: Interior Policy, Human Interest, Florida, Politics, U.S. Senate
Palm Beach Politics | Sun Sentinel blogsPalm Beach County???s struggle to impose tougher local gun control measures continued Tuesday. First the County Commission did away with a long-standing prohibition against allowing guns in local parks, because the rule conflicted with state law. Then the...
The Swampby Mark Silva Bill Clinton, who failed to win the health-care reforms that he sought early in his presidency, says he will be "shocked'' if President Barack Obama fails at the health-care initiative that he is seekng early in his......
The Swampby David G. Savage The Supreme Court set the stage for a historic ruling on gun rights and the 2nd Amendment by agreeing today to hear a challenge to Chicago's ban on handguns. At issue is whether state and local......
The Swampby Mark Silva At least 47 school-age children in Chicago have died in homicides -- mostly victims of gun violence - since January, when President Barack Obama, of Chicago, took office, our Chicago-based friend, John McCormick, notes at Bloomberg News........
KickingTiresAutomakers have been enlarging the compartments in center consoles, which sit between the driver and passenger seats, to answer requests from owners for more storage space for phones, glasses and assorted items. The size wars got so intense that some........
The Swampby Mark Silva The president picked up another $1.5 million for his party's congressional and Senate campaigns last night at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, where about 150 people paid a minimum $500 ticket for one event and about 300......
Palm Beach Politics - Sun-Sentinel BlogsAside from the growing healthcare reform debate (see earlier entry), here are other highlights from the public forum Thursday with five candidates vying to replace U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, in the District 19 congressional race: *The two...
Tags: Judaism, Interior Policy, Education, Florida, Charlie Crist
The Swampby Mark Silva With President Barack Obama's job approval rating at a term-low near the end of his first year, the Pew Research Center's Andrew Kohut suggests that "what's really exceptional at this stage of Obama's presidency is the extent......
The SwampElena Kagan in 1993, when she was a law professor at the University of Chicago. (AP/U. of Chicago.) by James Oliphant The White House during President Clinton's second term was a combustible, ambitious place. While to the public it......
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