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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Vigil Marks 25th Anniversary of Columbine School Shooting, Honoring 12 Students and Teacher Who Lost Their Lives

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DENVER —

Among the 13 victims of the ⁢Columbine High School shooting, remembered during a vigil on the eve of⁤ the 25th anniversary ⁢of the tragic⁢ event, ‌were a young girl who penned her thoughts to God ‍in her diaries,‌ a boy grappling with learning disabilities and beginning to accept himself, ⁣and a teenager who cherished every spare moment he could spend ‍fishing. At ⁤the time, this shooting was​ the most devastating the country had ever⁣ witnessed.

Thirteen empty chairs were adorned with flickering candles, each representing a life lost. Brief ⁢biographies ⁤of the victims,⁤ including students Rachel Scott,⁣ Kyle Velasquez, and Corey DePooter, ⁣were read aloud. After‍ each biography, the crowd of approximately 150 people responded in unison with the phrase ⁣”never forgotten,” followed by⁤ the tolling of a ⁣bell.

The youngest⁤ victim of the attack, which has since⁤ inspired ‍numerous‍ similar incidents, was 14-year-old Steven Curnow. The oldest was Dave ‍Sanders, a 47-year-old teacher who ‍bravely led⁤ students to safety from the cafeteria and was shot while attempting to guide students upstairs into classrooms.

Other victims included Cassie Bernall, Kelly Fleming, Matt Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Dan Rohrbaugh, Isaiah Shoels, John ​Tomlin, and Lauren Townsend.

Coni Sanders, daughter of ⁤Dave‍ Sanders, expressed that her father’s​ heroic ​actions forever changed the world by saving hundreds of ⁢students. “The children ​he saved now have ⁣their own ‌families. Generations ⁤from now, people will ‌know they exist ⁢because of his bravery,” she stated before the ceremony commenced.

The ​vigil, organized by advocates including ⁢gun safety organizations, was the primary public event commemorating the ‌anniversary. ⁤The ⁣event not only honored​ those who lost their lives but also acknowledged those who ​were injured and those who survived but were left traumatized.

Tom Mauser, father⁤ of victim ‌Daniel Mauser, decided to ⁣organize the vigil after discovering that school officials had no ⁢plans to host a large​ community event as they ​had on the 20th anniversary.⁣ Mauser, ⁤who became a gun safety ⁣advocate following the shooting, implored the ​crowd to remember the victims​ of Columbine ⁢and to take action to reduce gun violence.

“Above all,⁣ we ask you to ⁤never forget the victims of ​Columbine. The slain, the ⁢injured, the traumatized, and their families. And especially never forget ⁤those⁢ who lost their lives,” Mauser said, wearing his ⁢son’s sneakers, a‍ tradition he reserves for special occasions.

President Joe Biden, in a ⁣statement released on Saturday,‍ highlighted the steps his administration‍ has ​taken to curb the “senseless violence” that has impacted approximately 400 schools since Columbine. This includes the establishment of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

“I’ve⁤ met with ⁤countless families who’ve lost loved ones because of gun violence. Their message ⁤is⁢ always the same: do something,”⁢ the statement ​read. “My administration‌ will continue taking action, but ‍Congress must do their part. ⁢We need universal background checks,⁣ a national red flag law, and we must ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabby ⁣Giffords, who‌ was nearly killed in a mass shooting and has since become‍ a gun safety advocate, attended the ‍vigil. ⁢She spoke about‍ her ‌lengthy recovery and the small steps necessary​ to effect change in ​the world.

“Change doesn’t happen ‍overnight, and we can’t do it alone.⁤ Join ​me. Let’s move ahead together,” she ⁤said, earning a standing⁢ ovation from the crowd.

Nathan Hochhalter, whose⁤ sister Anne ⁣Marie was paralyzed in the‌ Columbine shooting, shared his experience of being trapped in a classroom with about 30 students, hearing ⁣gunfire nearby. They were ‍rescued about four hours later by⁢ SWAT⁤ officers. Six months after the incident,⁣ his mother, who suffered from ‌bipolar disorder, tragically ended her own life.

“I just want ⁣to use this moment to let everyone know that ‌it’s ​OK to ask ⁣for help, whatever your situation is whether, either as a ⁢survivor⁣ 25 years later or someone struggling with any part of their ​life. These things ⁤come in waves⁣ and⁤ they can hit you when you⁢ least expect it. You should all know that we’re all here for ⁤you and that you’re not alone,” Hochhalter said.

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Truth Media Network
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