Colombian school shooting victims' families gathered in the school on Saturday to tell their stories almost 20 years after the tragedy, talking about forgiveness, inclusion and healing, and a balm that can sometimes only bring silence. On April 20, 1999, two students from Columbus shot 12 classmates and a teacher in the Denver suburb of Littleton.
A dozen parents, brothers and sisters, former students and others who suffered from the trial met with reporters before the jubilee next month. Here are some of their stories.
Darrell and Sandy Scott
Darrell Scott was thinking of forgiveness Saturday.
Darrell's daughter and Sandy Scott, Rachel, were killed in Colombine and they set up a program called Rachel's Challenge in her honor. One of the principles the program teaches is the pardon that Scotts chose after Rachel was killed.
"It was a tough choice, but it gave us the opportunity to help students who struggle with problems in their own lives," said Darrell Scott. "Forgiveness releases you," Scott said. "And if you do not forgive, you will be irreconcilable and bitter and angry, and you will seek revenge," he said.
Scott's son, Craig, was also a student in Columbus and was in the school on the day of the attack. He worries that school shooting has become a "part of the American psyche". who has an organization called Value Up, and talks to students about the value of human life and does not turn to violence. "But this is also temporary … When you decide to go and put an end to someone's life, it's permanent, it's a constant judgment."
Frank De Angelis
Frank De Angelis, who was the director of Columbine's shooting time, wondered aloud how the murderers had become so hideous and whether part of the answer was that they felt excluded.
"We're talking about things to make schools safer," he said, including security cameras and metal detectors. , "But what can not be underestimated makes everyone feel welcome, all-embracing."
Schools are becoming more inclusive, he said, but now they have to fight cyberbullying. "
" This is something that scares me, "said DeAngelis." Now when someone posts something on this phone, he's there forever, and these kids feel that their lives are destroyed forever. "
Missy Mendo and Heather Martin
Missy Mendo and Heather Martin students who have escaped the attack are physically unharmed, but the emotional trauma kept them away from school for years. I fought after Columbus, "said Martin from the photos in 2009, but Mendo did not return before this year
Mendo and Martin helped open the The Rebels Project ̵
This work helped Mendo gather the courage to return on Saturday
"Help others, knowing that you are helping them with footsteps, "And knowing that when we come here today, we can let others know that we were here if we need them."
About Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed in Columbia, the 20th anniversary will be just another day, and bad.
"We live it every day," he said. "This is a reminder that we have every day that we have lost our son just like anyone who has lost a child."
But he appreciates that other people want to honor the victims and ask how survivors live.
More meaningful than observing anniversaries would be to ask if society will act to prevent shooting at school, Mauser said. Rick Townsend, whose daughter Lauren was killed in Columbus, thought of kindness and recalling the pouring out of the support that families felt from the people of the world.
"There was a time when people said," You know, we really need to be better with each other. We have to support each other, "he said.
" I think that over time some of
Dawn Anna, the mother of Lauren Townsend, said she found comfort by helping others through the tragedy. The most important thing, she said, is not to talk, just to attend. – he said nothing. She sat only with her, sometimes standing up to bring her a glass of water.
"Do not say anything, because there is not one word that you say will mean anything," Anna said. "Then when they are ready or if they ask a question then you can start talking."
Follow Dan Eliot at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP.