An updated version of an old blog post from the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. I don’t have a lot of new thoughts to add, but I think it’s important that we remember.
Every generation has a defining moment. Everybody has days that will foever be ingrained in their memory. While there are have been a number of those moments and days in my own life, there are few that I remember with such emotional clarity as April 20, 1999.
It was on this day 12 years ago that news quickly spread across the country of the horrific events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Two armed students entered the school, opening fire and tossing homemade bombs killing 12 students and a teacher and then turning their guns on themselves.
I remember coming home from school that day (I was in 8th grade, which in my district is included at the high school) and being glued to the coverage on CNN. Fear, grief and uncertainty overcame me as I watched the continuing reports. There are images (like the one above) that will be forever ingrained in my memory from that day. Students running for their lives out the door of their high school, a place that up until that point had always seemed to be a “safe” place. No high school would ever again be considered “safe.”
Even more than the media coverage, though, I was shaken to the core by the stories that began emerging regarding the supposed martyrdom of Rachel Scott and Cassie Bernall. I had heard ancient stories of people who had been killed for their faith, but the emerging stories (whether fully true or not) of these girls being questioned about their faith in God or being targeted in the shooting for their Christian faith made such martyrdom a reality. These girls were just like me – typical American teenagers who happened to be actively involved in their churches – and in an instant they were gone.
In light of this year’s 12th anniversary of the shooting, I am reminded of some of the books on my shelf about the stories of these two girls: Rachel’s Tears and She Said Yes. I first read these books in high school, and re-reading them always allows me to revisit some of the emotions and challenges that I faced as a high schooler dealing with the nation wide impact of the events at Columbine.
Now, 12 years later, I choose to remember: not the violence and tragedy of that day, but rather the hope that I have seen rising up as a result. The events that took place on April 20, 1999 will forever be etched on our minds and hearts – may we rise to the challenges, remember the lost, and embrace the hope of healing.