This isn’t going to be a typical blog post. Usually, I am excited and overwhelmed at the beauty in Colorado. However, today makes me a little more humble. Visiting Columbine memorial was the most emotional photo shoot I have ever done. An experience I feel is necessary to share with you all.
On April 20th 1999, the most deadly high school shooting occurred in Columbine, Colorado. I remember very clearly what I was doing. I was 12 at the time, and was blankly watching the news with my mother when the story first broke. It took me a while to really understand why my mom was crying and I figured I should pay attention to the news anchor. As I was watching students fleeing from the school, and hearing that several students had been shot. At this point we didn’t know who was killed, who was injured, who the gunmen were. All I kept thinking was, this is bad. Really, really bad.
At school the next day, it was very somber. We all spoke in hushed tones and feeling badly for the kids that were gone. Visiting Columbine memorial brought back a lot of those memories. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for the families of the lost and injured children, and their community.
As I walked up to the memorial there was a sign, advising how to conduct yourself in the memorial. Basically, “mind your manners” was the theme. There is a large half wall that makes almost a full circle, and in the middle of the circle is a waist-high wall where there are plaques on top of them in a smaller circle. On the ground there is a heart shaped ribbon and on each end says “Never Forgotten”. Each plaque was dedicated to one of the 13 people that were killed. Written by family members, or excerpts from diaries, each one told of story of the student or teacher. Through damp eyes I captured these incredible stories.
On the outer wall, there are quotes from students, faculty, the president (Clinton), and many more. All sharing their thoughts with the memorial. There was a very quiet peaceful vibe, others were walking through, pausing to read comments, and dedications. As I was reading some of these dedications, I couldn’t help but let my camera fall to my side and wipe my eyes. I said a silent prayer for the ones we lost and their family and friends.
Walking out of the memorial I could hear kids playing baseball and parents cheering them on. I can hear runners running through the trail near the memorial. There are parties and picnics happening just a few yards away. Visiting Columbine memorial, I can see how much care is taken to maintain the upkeep. This community clearly hasn’t forgotten, and takes steps to remember what happened. However, it seems like they are not letting such a tragedy hinder how they live. Truly inspiring.
My ride home was a quiet one. Reflecting on what I’ve just witnessed. I strongly suggest that if you are in the area you take a moment to pay your respects. It’s a little intense but time well spent. I have posted the full gallery of my visit below.