Monday, April 20, 2015

Today We Remember

There are moments you never forget.
There are days that remain in your memory long after others begin to fade.

Today is one of those days... for me... for the multitude of others that were touched by the events of this day, a day that seems like another life time ago.

It's been 16 years now... since the peace and innocence of what I thought my home state had was shattered by the sounds of shots being fired in a school.

April 20 1999 has meaning to so many of us.  As a native of Colorado, this is a day that haunts me.
I remember everything about this day.  I remember where I was when I first heard the news that there was a shooting happening... in a school.  I remember the panic and fear I felt that I could know someone in harms way.  I remember feeling a sadness I had never felt before, as a first time mom who had to face the cruelty of the world while holding my precious little girl.

I had never known what it meant to feel the world stand still until April 20 1999.  As I watched those children, not much younger than myself flee a place that was suppose to be safe, it felt as though life had just stopped in place.  It felt impossible to take myself away from the news coverage as the story was unfolding.  I found myself crying along with the parents of the children still missing, still unaccounted for. It  felt impossible that any of what I was seeing, what I was feeling could possibly be real.

I was not naive to the reality of the world before Columbine... but the reality of the world had never been in my back yard.  There I was watching swat teams swarm a school I had actually visited once, clearing children from halls that were suppose to hold promise and security.  It was impossible for me to not hate the world in those moments.  It was impossible for me to not wish I could deny what was happening and feel safe again.

In the years since that tragic day of course I've learned harder lessons and seen greater evil then anyone could have imagine possible.  No one could have ever thought 16 years ago as two trench coat clad, gun carrying teens struck fear in the hearts of so many that events like 9/11, Sandy Hook and even the Aurora Theater Shootings and The Boston Marathon Bombing where actually in our futures.  Columbine was only second to the Oklahoma City bombing for tragedies to occur in my short adult life.  I had known peace as a child.  Things happened in other countries, in other states, in other towns.  My world, my state... it was safe.  It was a place where kids went to school without fear.

Today I send my children to school... one to high school, one to middle school and one to elementary school and I know as I send them off that at any given moment the safety I pretend is there, for my own piece of mind could be shattered.  16 years ago, as I held my little girl, just a little over a year old in my lap and cried as I watched parents fear the worst about their children's fate... I had never feared the idea of sending her to school.  I had never feared that school would not be anything but joyful and adventures for her.  That was taken from me, of course, by two boys, who knew nothing of what damage they really inflicted on the world with their actions.

Today so many of us remember, like it was yesterday... and feel the emotions of this day, like it was yesterday.  Today families grieve for the children taken far to soon, for the innocence lost, for the paths that were altered and the memories stolen.
Today I vow, as I do every year to not forget, to never forget.  Today I vow to teach my children about this tragedy and how their actions effect others. Today I vow to do my part to do what it takes so that this nation never has to feel the pain felt 16 years ago when the world stood still.

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