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Dunblane mourns on anniversary of school massacre


March 13, 1997
Web posted at: 2:20 p.m. EST (1920 GMT)

DUNBLANE, Scotland (CNN) -- A year after a lone gunman killed 16 children and their teacher, the town of Dunblane mourned the victims in private ceremonies Thursday.

"We must remember the children with great dignity. But we must continue with our lives. We need to do that. I feel as a person that I need to do that now," teacher Eileen Harrild told BBC radio.

Dunblane Primary School, the site of the massacre, delayed its opening by an hour and a half so that children could be with their parents during the time the shooting happened. When the school opened, police guarded the entrance as its 700 pupils arrived.

The school and the families of the victims have asked to be left in peace Thursday so they can grieve without media bearing down.

"By their choice, no public occasions are being organized and each family will remember in their own way," Rev. John McIndoe, the head of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said in a message Wednesday.


Thomas Hamilton, a 43-year-old loner, opened fire just after 9:30 a.m. on March 13, 1996, killing the 5- and 6-year-olds and their teacher. Twelve other children and two teachers were wounded before Hamilton fatally shot himself.

Dunblane residents and people across Britain planned to light candles in their windows Thursday in memory of the victims. A wreath also was to be laid at the site of the school gymnasium where Hamilton opened fire. The gymnasium has been demolished and replaced by a garden.

"We'll never be the same again," headmaster Ron Taylor said. "But the school will move forward. It is a watershed Thursday but I don't think it will be our last hurdle."

Charlie Clydesdale, whose 5-year-old daughter was among those killed, said, "Coming to March was one of my main hurdles. I was wanting 1996 to end but it does not really end until March 13."


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