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Columbine: A Day of Remembrance

Aired April 20, 2001 - 13:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going now to Littleton, Colorado, where the ceremony has begun on this second anniversary of the shootings at the school.

Kelly Fleming. Matthew Kechter. Daniel Mauser. Daniel Rohrbough. Dave Sanders. Rachel Scott. Isaiah Shoels. John Tomlin. Lauren Townsend. Kyle Velasquez.

During our moment of reflection, let's express in the honor of silence our thoughts and our prayers of remembrance and honor and for those personally held close of love. Following these moments of silence, we are waiting for the arrival of others. And then we will begin the service of remembrance.

(SILENCE)

JANE HAMMOND, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS: I'm Jane Hammond, superintendent of schools. We are here to mark the second anniversary of the tragedy at Columbine High School.

We will never forget the students and teacher who lost their lives two years ago today. They will remain in our hearts and our minds forever. Our thoughts and our prayers are with the families today, as they are every day.

In this time of remembrance, we have much to be proud of, a school community coming together to heal, to recover, while never forgetting what has happened here. It is with my deepest admiration and respect that I think about the families of the injured and the murdered.

My heart aches for your loss. We are deeply moved by your courage and your strength. You have helped to rebuild the school, not only the building, but the spirit. It is the atrium and the library that can help us remember and also celebrate, and that the students and staff can enjoy for years and years to come.

It is with great pride that I think about the staff and their leadership with the students, helping the students to recover and remaining totally committed to making the students' high school years the very best that they can be. I'm eternally grateful for their strength and their commitment.

We have to be inspired by the courage of our students. The students help us to refocus, have helped us to look forward in -- with the heart of Columbine being a project that focuses on caring and reaching out and being a real contributing member of the community.

I join the students in recognizing the tragedy that happened here, but also focusing on the healing of our community, knowing that our community has come together to be more respectful of each other and to be more loving.

I would like to introduce Jon Destefano, our school board president.

(APPLAUSE)

JON DESTAFANO, SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT: Thank you, Dr. Hammond. Today as we remember the horrible tragedy in Columbine two years ago, there is a time to grieve and a time to share our hope for the future. We continue to be deeply saddened by the loss of promise and hope that our 12 students and our teacher, Dave Sanders, represented.

They will remain in our hearts and minds forever. The void created by their loss will never be filled. We pray that family members here today can take solace in their fond memories and in our love and our support.

What has helped me get through the last two years is the understanding that great tragedy belongs to everyone, and that good will come from it. In the summer of '99, I participated in a think tank with 125 kids, ages 8 to 18 at Geneva Blank (ph) Camp. The topic was the blessings of Columbine.

And the kids talked about all the issues: tolerance, murder, suicide, crosses, religion, how they felt then, where they were now. And they came to a remarkable conclusion. They concluded that we, as a society, must not hide in finding someone to blame. They said that instead, everyone must accept the responsibility for making it better.

True, two students inflicted this great misery and tragedy. But all of us must help make a better society.

As we have gone through the last two years, we have faced many hurdles. We have learned to depend on each other. And our Columbine parents, students, and staff have led the way. They have worked so hard, and have helped us find meaning in what has happened. And we owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

Numerous support systems have been created to help us heal and recover, the Heart of Columbine, Hope, Columbine Connections, and the Columbine Memorial Committee are just a few examples of how our community has joined hands to make a better future. The entire world has watched as we work together to mend. And they have gained hope from us.

On behalf of the Jefferson County Schools, I want to thank all members of the Columbine and Jefferson County communities. You have modeled love and unity. We are eternally grateful.

I would like to introduce our Columbine student body president, Mandy Bowen.

(APPLAUSE)

MANDY BOWEN, COLUMBINE STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT: Two years ago, our community and our school suffered a tremendous loss of precious loved ones and shattered dreams. Out of the overwhelming grief of loss -- loss of friends, loss of classmates, loss of a beloved teacher and coach, and a loss of innocence -- we have found the strength to move forward.

Two years ago, our lives changed forever. We'll never forget the lives we lost that day. We will always remember their spirit.

As a school and with the Columbine Community, we have come together to help each other in healing. Now, two years later, our school and community are continuing to heal and are moving on in the spirit of Columbine turning the date April 20th into a day to always remember the loss of fellow classmate and teacher, but also to commemorate this day of one of giving back, a day of uniting and sharing.

Now I would like to reintroduce Pastor Dave Peters.

(APPLAUSE)

DAVE PETERS, PASTOR, GENESIS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: We have listed names. We have remembered loved ones. We have come together for this to be acknowledged as a day of remembrance. We fulfill once again a vow we have made, never to forget those who died on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School.

We also called to mind those around us who will always be grieving the loss of loved ones and friends. We recognize the many who struggle with enduring feelings of the loss of personal safety and of well-being and wonder if we're ever going to get that back again.

May we never discount the importance of attending to one another's pains. May we never deny that we need and we benefit from one another's support and prayer.

Today is also a day to stake a claim, a claim on our future. Today is a day to reclaim our yearning to move on, to take steps forward. Today is a day to act on a decision, a decision to devote ourselves to a higher calling, to embody high ideals for the good of all, to secure one another's right to belong among us, to confirm each and every person's worth with kindness and with hospitality, to provide for one another's safety, especially in the face of a threat.

Today and in the days to come, may we work together toward fulfilling these ideals. And may our best efforts cease not until every barrier to our opportunity, every assault on freedom, and every obstacle to fulfilled lives is removed. Let us continue the good work of so many whose words and deeds are producing in our very midst hope and healing, peace, and a welcome for all.

We invite you to remain here for a time of reflection. We invite you to express your care for and with and to one another. But make this not only a day of remembrance, but a day of your own personal decision. We thank you for joining us in these moments.

(APPLAUSE)

WATERS: It was two years ago at this hour, just before lunchtime at Columbine High School when students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold with automatic weapons began in a most horrible fashion upon students and the teachers in the library at Columbine High School. In the end, 12 classmates were dead, a teacher was dead, 26 others were wounded. Harris and Klebold had committed studs suicide.

Today, a couple of hundred, the student body, their teachers, their superintendents gather to remember when the silence was shattered on that day. We will take a break.

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