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'A Time to Remember, A Time to Hope': Columbine High School Holds Public Ceremony on Anniversary of ShootingAired April 20, 2000 - 2:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In Littleton, Colorado, near the Columbine High School, the public remembrance, called "A Community Remembers: A Time to Remember, a Time to Hope," has begun with the singing now of the National Anthem.
MATT VARNEY, COLUMBINE SENIOR: Next I would like to introduce to you from the class of '99, Steve Cohen, and from the calls of 2000, Jonathan Cohen as they sing "Friend of Mine."
STEVE COHEN, 1999 COLUMBINE GRADUATE: We would like to let you know guys know that this is the final time we will be performing this song. And from the beginning, the purpose of this song was just to glorify God, and to serve you guys, and we hope that it has done that.
("FRIEND OF MINE")
WATERS: That's a song you may recall, it was sung by the Cohen brothers at the memorial service last year and is included in a CD now, a CD of music to benefit the victims, and has sold more than 35,000 copies. The brothers spent the summer touring the United States doing concerts and including that song.
Master of ceremonies Matt Varney.
VARNEY: Next I want to introduce, from St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church, the director of the youth ministry, please welcome Jim Beckman.
JIM BECKMAN, ST. FRANCIS CABRINI CATHOLIC CHURCH YOUTH MINISTRY: We would like to begin there ceremonies today in prayer.
In this year of tragedy how do we find hope? How do we make sense of the violence around us and the loss that we have experienced? I pray today for us that we could see the victories that have been won. I pray that the world could see the victories and the accomplishments that have been won. Crime in our country is down to pre-1973 levels. Teen pregnancy is down 7 1/2 percent since 1974. Sexual activity among high school teens has been declining for three straight years. Abortions in this country are down 15 percent since 1990. The divorce rate is down 19 percent since 1981. And 76 percent of Americans favor faith-based solutions to today's problems in our society. We are winning.
This is a big war, but we are winning, and the tide is turning, and I believe it is the young people, our young people, who are fighting the hardest. It is our young people who are the heroes, and it is their faith that is an inspiration to us all. And today I pray for them.
I pray that God will breathe new life into their hearts and breathe new energy into their dreams. May this be a day of remembering those we have lost, but even more, a day of celebrating the life they lived, and shared with us.
Where is the hope? I quote Billy Graham, as he said: "The hope that each of us hath is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things we do as a nation, our hope is in the power of God, working through the hearts of people, and that is where our hope is in this country, that is where our hope is in this life. Jesus Christ be our hope."
WATERS: Jim Beckman, director of youth ministry...
VARNEY: The next person I want to introduce hardly needs an introduction, he is our principal. His persistent desire to meet the needs of his students and faculty has been an inspiration. He is so special to all of at Columbine. We love you.
Mr. Frank DeAngelis.
FRANK DEANGELIS, PRINCIPAL, COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL: The theme today, "A Time to Remember, A Time to Hope," is a very appropriate one. It helps us honor those we lost, as well as hope for the future. Cassie Bernall, Steven Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matt Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Danny Rohrbough, Dave Sanders, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, Kyle Velasquez.
Whether as family or friends, as teachers, or fellow students, we all share this great sense of loss of the 13 murdered. We cannot forget the pain of their loss. We miss them now, and we always will.
All death is tragic. If it was not so, life itself would be meaningless. Still, death hits hardest when its victims are so young: the hopeful and the innocent.
Time was not on the side of those we mourn. It is all too true that they were cut off on the threshold of their lives. Yet, how full their lives were: a loving wife, children, and grandchildren, loving parents, families and friends who cared for them. Their lives were full of courage, hope, and enthusiasm.
And never forget, they loved us as much as we loved them. And just as we cared for their happiness, they cared for ours. They brought us joy and pleasure to so many of us.
I have known the pain that we are feeling after the death of our Columbine family members is overwhelming. The hurt will never go away knowing that they are no longer with us. Their presence touched so many lives of our family, as we can see by the number who are in attendance today, and those watching around the world.
But in the darkness, we see the stars, and how clearly we see them now. During this past year, each evening I would go out on my deck and look up at the sky, searching for answers and inspiration, and each night I would be consoled and provided the hope to carry on to the next day. I imagined the stars were the victims' twinkling eyes, looking down upon me, when I called each of their name, they provided me with the answers that I was seeking, and the strength to continue. Their loving, caring souls never let me down.
There were nights that the rain fell, and I knew that our children who brutally lost their lives were crying because of the sorrow bestowed upon their families and our community. But each day their smiles gave us the sunshine that we so desperately needed. I will always cherish those moments and continue to look to the sky for I know that they will never let me travel through my life alone.
We will never forget the 13 innocent victims who lost their lives a year ago today. While they are no longer with us physically, their spirits remain strong. We will draw strength from our memories of their lives and what they have contributed to Columbine High School.
Unfortunately, our school and community suffered further losses when Stephanie Hart and Nick Kunselman were brutally murdered in February. And this makes the healing process even more difficult.
We will not forget the strength and determination that has been exhibited by the 23 injured students, their tenacity and fortitude has served as motivation for all of us.
Ernest Hemingway wrote, "The world breaks everyone, and then we are stronger in broken places." The memories of those who died will make us stronger in broken places, and forge even a stronger bond with those who survived.
We are a strong school family, and together we are recovering. While our scars will remain with us forever, we will continue to regain our strength and hope. Our family members who were murdered will always be remembered and will be greatly missed, and our love for them will last for a lifetime and the memory of their lives will provide the hope for our future.
WATERS: That is Frank DeAngelis, principal of Columbine for four years and much beloved, as you can tell by his reception today. He says he will stay at Columbine at least two more years.
VARNEY: Please welcome from United Methodist Church, Reverend Lucia Guzman.
REV. LUCIA GUZMAN, UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: Would you please rise, if you are able, for the reading and the honoring of those who died.
Many years ago, in 1988 -- '84, I joined friends and colleagues in Central America, where there was much fighting, much death. One thing that I will always remember was that as the villagers gathered in the village, and there were those who were missing -- fathers, mothers, children, grandchildren -- the village would gather not knowing where these were dead or simply lost.
And each evening the village would gather on a hill, much like this one, by a lake called Solentonami (ph). And the villagers would take roll call. They would read the names of everyone who was a member of that community, and if that one was missing, it was the community who said, "present."
I invite you now, friends and family, as the name is read of those who have gone on before us to say "present," for you become their human proxy.
May they rest in peace forever and ever.
VARNEY: The Columbine Concert Choir will now perform "Ave Maria.
VARNEY: From the class of 1999, Columbine High School student body president Heather Dinkel.
HEATHER DINKEL, 1999 STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT: The people of this nation are blood cells and the Columbine community is a heart. Missing either, the system was shut down. The heartbeat of the rhythm of hope and keep this country alive. One year ago, the heart was crushed. Stomped on by the foot of loneliness, isolation and injustice. The heart was weak and didn't understand how something so unfair could happen. The heart of the community was weeping and alone.
But the blood of the nation kept flowing, there was no chance for the heart to rest. The nation knew it had to strengthen to overcome any difficulty in its path. It kept flowing, it worked extra hard and multiplied to create enough cells so the heart wouldn't have to work as hard to keep pumping. Slowly, the heart was mending. Slowly, hope grew in the heart and the nation grew with it. Now, both are back in full strength.
The heart of this community has prevailed over tragedy and grew in its hope for a brighter future. The blood, the nation, never quit flowing or slowed down. The heart and the blood feeding off the positive energy from one another, it is time to thank the nation. The blood that helped keep this heart strong in the time of despair. Thank you.
Margaret Freluse Barber (ph) once said, "To look backwards for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it and render it to more fit for its prime function of looking forward." I believe the same can be said of the heart. During this past year, I gazed back on events that take place with despair, but ready to look forward. Today is the beginning of the move forward. We of the Columbine community are ready to take the first step with the nation here to support us.
VARNEY: Please welcome Columbine High School teacher, Patti Nielson.
PATTI NIELSON, COLUMBINE TEACHER: My name is Patty Nielson, and I am the teacher who called 911 from the library and I would like to share a personal story about that day with all of you, and to talk about an emotion that isn't mentioned a lot, but it exists.
At this exact time, one year ago, I was curled up in a cupboard in a back room of the library. I had crawled there to hide after the shooting in the library was over and the killers had left. Please forgive me for taking you back to that day, but you need to know where I was in order to understand my story. Have you ever wondered what thoughts would go through your head at the moment of your death?
I can tell you that while I was crouched under the checkout counter, listening to the gunfire and sounds of horror, that I prayed. I prayed for my children -- no, I'm sorry, I prayed for the children who were being shot and for the children who were shooting them. I prayed that help would arrive soon. I thanked God that my own children were not with me. I asked God to forgive me of my sins before I died.
But I had more time to think, because when the killers left the library I crawled to a back room and hid in a cupboard for the next three and a half hours. I never felt safe because of the continuous sounds of guns and bombs, and so I silently continued my thoughts in conversation with God. Naturally, I thought about my husband, parents, and sisters, my nieces and nephews and loved ones, my friends and students. But most of my thoughts were of my own three children. I worried about them being raised without a mother, I worried about them grieving without me there to comfort them. I worried about my husband raising them alone. I knew they would be very sad.
Then a thought came to my mind that bothered me even more. I knew that my family would grieve, but I did not want the circumstances of my death to make them bitter and angry. I did not want my children to grow up consumed by anger or absorbed in self pity. I just wanted them to be happy, whether I was there or not. It was at this point that I desperately felt around in the dark cupboard searching for something to write with to tell my husband to make sure our kids knew it was OK to go on and be happy, to let them know that I did not want them to be bitter and angry, because those feelings will eventually become self destructive. I never found anything to write with, but instead I survived to tell them myself.
Many of us have questioned why we survived, while so many people so loved by their families and friends died. I don't know why I survived, unless it was to have the chance to tell my children that I wanted them to be happy, or perhaps to share that same message with all of you. I can't help wondering, could these have been the last thoughts of one of those who died in that same place on that same day? Could they, too, have wanted desperately to tell their families and friends the same thing? Today marks the one-year anniversary of that terrifying and sad day. I know that we are all at different places in our own grieving process, and that having haunting memories of that day will not just suddenly go away. But for me, I want today to also mark the day that I let go of the anger, allowed myself the peace that comes from acceptance and forgiveness and gave myself permission to be happy again.
That is what I wanted for my family, and that is what I wish for all of you. Thank you.
WAIERS: Patti Neilson, the art teacher who called 911 one year ago today, delivering some inspiration. Today, eight of Columbine's 93 staff members will quit in May, three other teachers left because of the tragedy.
VARNEY: Please welcome superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools Jane Hammond.
JANE HAMMOND, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: As I look at the crowd, I am struck by the solidarity of our community. One year ago today, we experienced the most unbelievable tragedy, and as Frank said so well, we will never forget the precious lives that we lost.
And here we are today, united, a community that has suffered together and grown stronger as a result. The kind of tragedy that we have been through has the potential to tear a community apart. I am so proud that that has not happened to us, that we have built together, we've come together, and we are stronger than ever about our purpose as a community. And that's to build a community that's safe and caring for our children.
I admire the students, the staff and the community of Columbine as they have rebuilt this year. I am so impressed with the staff, a staff that has put aside their own grief to be strong for students. The difficulties that the staff has been through, they have handled issues that no educational staff should ever have to deal with. They have done that with grace and with caring. I am eternally grateful to them, and I know that we are eternally grateful as a district and as a community.
I am impressed with the courage of the students and the parents. The students and parents have continued the educational excellence of this school in spite of what they've been through, the courage to continue to be a model of educational excellence. That only happens by the commitment of our students, of our parents and of the staff. In this last year, we've gotten to know the families of students who were injured and those that were murdered. My heart aches for the pain that they must be feeling today. It is their courage and their strength that has helped us all.
Last year, we said that we knew that we would be known for this tragedy. We also at that time said we wanted to be known for how we as a community dealt with it. I believe that we can be very proud as we reflect on our courage and our strength that has allowed us to begin to recover and to move forward.
Thanks to all of you.
VARNEY: President of the board of education of Jefferson County Schools John DeStefano.
JOHN DESTEFANO, BOARD OF EDUCATION: I am truly honored to share the podium with members of the Columbine student body and staff. Thank you for inviting me.
On behalf of our school district and my fellow school board members, I want you to know that we are so proud of our Columbine family, our students, staff and parents for the courage and dignity they have shown over the past year. They are truly heroes and role models to us all.
A year ago, I told the world about Frank DeAngelis and our Columbine staff, about the many lives you saved and how proud I was of you and that our children could not have been in better hands. That is still true, now more than ever. You have cared for our children and guided them through this difficult year. On behalf of the community, again I say thank you.
And Columbine parents, throughout this great tragedy you have been there not only for your children but for all our children. You have by your example helped all parents understand the importance of being involved in the lives of our young adult children. They need more than our love, they need our support, encouragement and involvement. We thank you for that gift of understanding.
And Columbine students, you have given new meaning to the term school spirit. It has gone beyond your great championships. You have been caring and compassionate, and with great determination you have looked the forces of evil in the eye and said, you will not win -- not now, not ever. You will not keep us down. In so doing, you have won our nation's heart.
Somehow, we are all bound together by the tragic events of one year ago today, and we join you in sorrow as we remember your fellow students and your teacher Dave Sanders, who died so senselessly. Although they are no longer with us, we take time today to remember that we have roots in their lives and that their spirits will remain forever in our hearts.
We also join together in a time of hope. True, April 20th, 1999, showed us the dark, destructive power of evil. But more importantly it enabled us to be touched by the warmest of sun's, human love. We have been overwhelmed by the caring we have witnessed, from the impromptu memorial in Clement Park to the tens of thousands of banners, cards, letters and gifts that had arrived at our door from around the world. People from all walks of life, preschoolers and corporate executives, caregivers of all kinds, civics and religious on organizations, youth groups and rival schools, our fellow JeffCo students and staff, professional musicians and athletes, the first lady and the president of the United States, and many, many others have shown us that they care, and we are grateful. From the nickels and lollipops sent by elementary school students to the scholarships established by businesses, we have been the fortune recipient of loving kindness. The support of the Columbine community, the Jefferson County family, and people from around the state, the nation and the world has eased our suffering. Without the incredible outpouring of assistance and encouragement, our healing process would have been even more difficult.
On behalf of Columbine High School, our school district, our community, I want to thank the world for the support we have received over the last 12 months. You have made an incredible impact on our lives, and we have learned a great deal from your kindness. As the victims will remain in our hearts forever, so will those who came to our aid.
Thank you so much.
WATERS: "A Time to Remember, A Time to Hope," more from Littleton, Colorado, in a moment.
WATERS: A community remembrance, a public memorial service at Clement Park Amphitheater near Columbine High School.
At the podium, Sergio Gonzales, class of 2000.
SERGIO GONZALES, COLUMBINE SENIOR: ... we were not a perfect school. There are problems that existed like in many other high schools around the nation, sometimes intolerance toward others based on certain things, who you hang around with, how you dressed, the way you acted. These things happen all over the nation, but that does not mean they are just or fair.
What happens when you're in your workplace or in your schoolplace is we get caught up in petty arguments that in actuality mean nothing. Or at high school, we share a joke about another person with our friend because it's just a joke, right? It means nothing. But it does mean something to the person that is being insulted and teased.
Do you know that person? Have you taken the time to know who they are inside, what their life is like at home? Do you know that person goes home and they're beaten by their father? Do you know that person? Do you know that their grandma died of cancer two years ago? Do you know that they just lost their mother? We never know other people, but we assume we do because we talk to them -- but we don't really talk to them.
As a member of this community, take your steps, whether you're a parent, whether you're a student, whether you're a grandfather or grandmother, whoever you may be, and re-evaluate your placement in this community, re-evaluate your placement in your household, your placement in your workplace, your placement in your school, because you all are precious. And, unfortunately, this had to happened for us to realize just how precious people are to us. We realize how precious those people we lost are now, like Rachel Scott or Dan Mauser or Isaiah Shoals, and the list goes on.
So take that with you today and go on to better yourself and your community. And I believe if we can do that, then this does not have to be in vain. It does not have to be something that passes with the days, but instead something that make us stronger inside and in our hearts.
WATERS: Sergio Gonzales of the class of 2000 inspiring the crowd. Since this tragedy, 20 students have chosen to study at home, 46 never returned. Last year, 60 students left.
VARNEY: Please welcome Columbine High School teacher and a great guy, Lee Andres.
LEE ANDRES, COLUMBINE TEACHER: Good afternoon, my name is Lee Andres. I'm a vocal music teacher, football coach and student government sponsor at Columbine High School. I am also a graduate.
I wanted to begin with some thank yous. First, to the world on behalf of the Columbine Student Senate, I want to thank everyone for their letters, their cards, donations, songs, music CDs, supports, thoughts and their prayers. If we do not personally thank all of you, please forgive us. There was so much that it was nearly impossible to reply to everything.
I especially want to thank a young lady from Pennsylvania named Barrin Lindenburg (ph), who sent us one letter that touched my senate kids immensely and has meant a great deal to me personally.
To our principal, Frank DeAngelis: Frank, on behalf of the staff of Columbine, I want to thank you for your leadership, your friendship, your guidance and your strength. Immediately after the 20th, you made it a priority to keep our Columbine High School family together, and you led us in reclaiming our school. Whenever I get tired, I look at how much time and effort you put into our school and I gain strength from your example. You are the glue that held us together, and you are the glue that held us together, and you are the glue that holds all of us today. We are still Columbine because of you, Frank, and we all love you very much.
And finally, I'd like to thank Sally Blanchard, the students and staff of Chatfield Senior High School and the Chatfield community. Thank you for opening your building and your hearts to us, for changing your lives for us and for being a friend in need. Without you, it would have been far more difficult to begin our healing. Thank you, Chatfield.
This event has changed our lives, and like many of you I have spent a lot of time thinking about what happened to us on the 20th.
WATERS: We lost sound for a moment. That's what's happening here, and we're working on it. So we'll take a break while we fix the problem.
WATERS: We've re-established contact with Littleton, Colorado.
Lee Andres is still at the podium.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ANDRES: However your family is structured, tell them that you love them. If your relationship isn't where you want it to be, find a way and fix it. Find a way, these are the only relationships lake this you have, and tell them how you feel. Don't wait, because tomorrow could be too late. Tell your best friend, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, that teacher or coach that got you through school, that special friend that always listened to you, to all those people who are special in your lives, tell them how you feel, but don't wait another day, don't wait another hour, because tomorrow may be too late.
Thank you, Columbine.
VARNEY: As students of Columbine High School, we return to the 99-00 school year anxious and ready what it will bring. I am just one of the 2,000 students who can tell the story of the school year which has presented our faculty and student body with influence, surroundings, new friendship and a unique opportunity to begin healing the wounds from a year ago.
However, it is important for us all to remember that healing is not an event, but a process, a process that requires us to respect the fact that even one year later, we are all in very different places personally. The healing process is not the same for everyone. It is not predictable. It cannot be rushed or forced. The loss we have experienced and felt cannot be fixed or explained, but it can be shared, and that is why we have gathered here today, to join our hearts on this unpredictable journey and remember some very special people who were taken from us, and be reminded that life is a wonderful gift never to be taken lightly.
After April 20, the importance of healing was initially hard to grasp. How do you respond to such a terrible tragedy? One step for us as a student body is to simply focus on the present and future while being sensitive to the past. It has been a significant challenge and a struggle. However, there's been at least three sources that enable us to engage in this healing process. The first source of healing has been our friends and our faculty. Opportunities to comfort and be comforted have made the healing process so much more bearable and profoundly meaning. Why is it that we seldom appreciate the true impact another make on our lives until tragedy strikes? After the tragedy, it seemed more important to us all not to take our friendships for granted. I think many of us learned a great deal this year about friendship and about what it means to be a true friend.
Another source of healing for us has been our families and community. It was amazing to watch how people came together to serve and support one another. The loving bond of family and community seemed to shine brighter than ever before. I can't begin to imagine what parents felt that day when their child didn't get off a bus. The loving support of family and community cannot erase the pain of such loss, but I believed that we all witnessed and experienced how they can encourage us to persevere and continue on with grace and dignity.
Thank you, thank you so much for your support. You shared our pain and our tears. In a time of crisis it is those that comfort you, love you and listen to you that become the most important part of feeling. A third related source of our healing has been communication. The stories we told helped us to see what we had experienced. Stories helped us articulate our new understandings. Being able to share our stories and open up our hearts and minds is what keeps many of us going.
I would like to thank all of those who have sat down with someone from Columbine and listened to their story. You must know that when you invite us to tell our stories, you help us embrace the present and move into the future with a renewed hope and purpose.
VARNEY: Our hope for future will not be found in our efforts to secure a reason for the tragedy. We need a hope that is rooted in a more realistic vision, that is not bound to the question of why, but to the question of how, how can we make this loss meaningful? One way is through simple acts of kindness. Each and every one of us must stop and listen to our own heart, and with courage and humility acknowledge our own failure to relate responsibly. The path beyond violence is not paved with prejudice and power, but with personal sensitivity and courage.
Students, while walking through the halls of your school, never underestimate the importance of a simple hi to those you do not know very well. It can make that person's day.
Teachers and all school staff, it is important to establish relationships with those kids that are easy to get along with, with those that are difficult to relate to also. Talk to them, be nice to them, and remember the power of having someone believe in you.
Parents, listen to your kids, know how they feel, learn about their special gifts, their passions in life, and most importantly, love them for who they are, not for who you want them to be. A vision of kindness cannot be forced or legislated, because it is first and foremost a matter of the heart.
On this anniversary day, don't forget to remember. It is in the act of remembering that we give dignity to our suffering. Remember those who lost their lives and those who were injured. Take a moment also to think about how you as an individual can make a difference. It all begins with simple acts of kindness. To our community, to people around the country and around the world, we would like to say a heartfelt thank you. Your simple acts of kindness, your cards, your gifts, your love and prayers have encouraged us to move forward with hope and compassion. Your loving support has not allowed us to seek after a painless life, but to live so that our pain might have meaning. Don't forget to remember the past. And cherish today as a gift from God.
VARNEY: Once again, our beloved principal, Frank DeAngelis.
DEANGELIS: Today is also a day to hope. While we will never forget what happened at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, we will move forward. We cannot let the senseless deaths of our Columbine family members be in vain. We must pay homage to them by making the world a better place to live. We have lived lessons this past year, first and foremost that life is precious and we should not take anything for granted, and we must value life and respect one another. The hate in our world must turn to love. During this past year, I have been blessed with the support and encouragement and wisdom of so many great people.
On January 20th, Gerda Wiseman Klein (ph), a Holocaust survivor, and her husband, Kurt, paid a visit to our community. They so eloquently provided words of hope and inspiration for a community that was in healing. They recently sent me a letter sharing their thoughts about their visit to CHS, and I would be remiss if I did not share their words of wisdom and hope with you.
Gerta writes: "Being with you has brought back many memories of moments in my own life when I was your students' age and was confronted by the same senseless hatred and loss that resulted in so much pain. But along with this unspeakable cruelty I also witnessed many acts of incredible humanity, love and sacrifice. There was a completely unselfish act exhibited by my friend Elci (ph) when she gave me a treasury of a raspberry she had found on the way to our daily ordeal, presented it to me on a leaf that she had picked through a barbwire fence. That memory is all the more bitter considering that Elci was never privileged to taste another raspberry again, ultimately succumbing to our tormentors' treatment. This selfless gesture has stayed with me throughout my life, inspiring me to give to others in memory of her.
You, the young people at Columbine will, I am sure, be able to turn barbarism you have seen into acts of kindness and caring thus Columbine High School will forever be the symbol of humanity and redemption. For members of Columbine will serve as guiding lights for the youth of our entire nation and world thus you will be able to turn your pain into healing, ignorance into enlightenment, and hatred into love."
I agree with Gerta and Kurt. The Columbine community has been chosen to make the world a better place. All eyes are upon us as we look to the future. We can and we will make it a better place. CHS is a wonderful place where one of the worst tragedies in history occurred. The one image that is constant in this wise man's mind is a painting that she first saw when she entered our school. She stated it portrayed a hard and solid rock from who is crevices protruded an incredibly beautiful and delicate Columbine flower, its petals in the shape of doves that herald peace and healing. That picture has remained with me because it perfectly symbolizes what you stand for, the steadfastness of rock tempered by compassion and beauty of your outreach to others. Thanks for your caring and understanding.
In the near future, I will plant the Columbine flower outside of my office windows, and the tears that I will shed will provide the water and nourishment that, that plant will need to grow. This lovely flower will serve as a constant reminder of the 13 who lost their lives on April 20th and represent the strength of this fantastic community and provide the hope to carry on from this day forward. We are a strong school family and together we are recovering. I admire the strength of our parents and families who lost their loved ones a year ago today. You have provided the inspiration and strength for us to carry on.
I am proud of the members of our student bodies who faced adversity with great strength and would not give up over the past 12 months, and I admire the members of our staff for the support and encouragement that you have provided for so many during the healing process, even though you are experiencing tremendous loss and extraordinary hurt. Well, our scars will remain with us forever, we will continue to regain our strength in hope. Our school has 27-year history of excellence. It was a great school before April 20th, 1999, and will continue to be a great school into the future.
DEANGELIS: While April 20th, 1999 showed us the terrible power of evil, it also showed us the incredible power of human kindness. We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received from our community, state, nation and world. Kind thoughts, gifts and donations have come from around the world and we want to thank all those who have given to us so generously in our time of need. You will never know how much your generosity and benevolence have meant to us and have helped us heal. The members of the Columbine community send our heartfelt love.
DEANGELIS: I would like to share a gift with you that I received from Mary Gallagher (ph), who lives in Belgium. She writes a poem: "The road we have walked is gone. The road we are walking is full of life, light and hope. The road in the future is unknown. We are a sum of gone, present and future. Therefore, walk always in life, light and hope."
In closing, the Kleins and I believe that the future years -- in future years on April 20th, that people around the world should use this day to perform an act of kindness and love in memory of those who lost their lives at Columbine on April 20th, 1999. For all the years to come, April 20th will always be a time to remember, a time to hope.
Thank you for all of your support, and I love you. (APPLAUSE)
WATERS: Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis, who says he will remain at the high school for at least two more years until the last class that was present in the building a year ago today has graduated. A time to remember, a time for hope, from Littleton, Colorado.
I'm Lou Waters at CNN Center.
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