Remembering the Columbine Massacre
Posted October 12, 2008on:
Once upon a time when people talked or reminisced about having trouble fitting in at school it usually meant that maybe a student got picked on, acted out in the classroom, on or didn’t quite fit in with a particular crowd. High school can be the high point in many teenagers’ lives while others never wish to repeat the experience again for one reason or another. Either way most high school students go to classes, take tests, attend to a few football games, make an appearance at a school dances, and before they know it they are walking across the stage on graduation day. For decades this has been the habitual way in which teenagers received their high school education, as technology progressed some things might have changed, but the majority of the conventional high school education stayed the same, that was until April 20, 1999.
It’s hard to find anyone who isn’t familiar with the events that unfolded on that fateful day of April 20, 1999 in the small suburban town of Littleton, Colorado. It was on that day that two high school seniors that were students of Columbine High school put a dark plan into action that would change history forever, and not just for Columbine High school but for schools throughout the world. So what exactly happened on that historic day? Two troubled high school students who should have been focusing on school, sports, senior pranks, and video games unfortunately had their sights set on an entirely gruesome objective that became a well tragedy known throughout the World when they began killing fellow school mates at Columbine High School.
The names of these two high school seniors that attended Columbine High school are Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. These two teenagers had many things in common such as they both came from two parent homes, both had siblings, and they were both considered rather smart individuals. Both of them even enjoyed sports and messing around on their computers. It was probably these similarities that drew the two boys to each other while there both attended the same middle school in 1993. Dylan Klebold was a native to the state of Colorado but Eric Harris was not, Eric did not move to Littleton, Colorado until that same year that they met when his family moved there after retiring from Air Force life. While growing up there was nothing out of the ordinary that would have predicted the evil that launched these two boys into a killing spree many years later.
As it is with many teenagers that are forced to make the transition from middle school to high school, both Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris found that high school was a different world. It was no longer easy to fit in and they couldn’t seem to find a particular group or clique that they were comfortable in. As this is the case with many students in the high school years, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris found that they were picked on by certain cliques within the school, mainly by those who participated in sports programs, otherwise known as the jocks of Columbine High School. Most teenagers would take this kind of treatment in stride and for the first few years it seemed like that was exactly what Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris was doing. There were no noticeable warning signs, both teenagers went about their life the same way that others their age did. They both had an after school job, liked to play video games, and spent the remainder of their time focused on girls and dating, none of these activities scream out murderer in any way to the naked eye.
You might be asking yourself if the Columbine massacre was just some random act that the boys came up with after being pushed a little too far one, the answer is no. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did not simply come up with this evil plan after being picked on one day, this was a plan that took planning, time, and a lot of effort, Columbine was no accident but an intended target. The two boys did not have a squeaky clean arrest record, a year before the planned assault both Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris decided to break a few laws but like most criminals they weren’t planning on getting caught. While breaking into a van they two were discovered and arrested. Mainly due to their age and the fact that this was a first time offense both young men decided that they would cut a deal so they could complete a juvenile diversion program that was offered. This deal allowed them to complete the program over an eleven month period in exchange for having a clean record. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did exactly what they needed to do in order to convince the law and their family that they had seen the error of their ways. By the end of the program everyone thought that both had been reformed and were on their way to a better and brighter future, unfortunately no one realized what the two young men had been planning over that year. While convincing everyone that they were truly sorry for their crime they were actually planning the attack on Columbine, the assault that occurred on April 20, 1999 was a well thought out and planned strike against the high school, the faculty, and the students.
Many people try to figure out what could possess two seemingly normal teenage boys to commit such an evil crime against their fellow man. While there may never be an entirely accurate reason for such an act of violence, in the case of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris they were two very troubled and angry teenagers that happened to become friends and spent their time hating almost everyone else. The two didn’t limit their hatred for just those who may have picked on them during their four years at Columbine High School; they hated everyone with the exception of a few friends. It didn’t matter if someone was African American, Christian, White, a jock, or even a Star Wars Fan; the two teenagers hated them all. Not many knew about this deep rooted hatred that lived inside the two boys until after the Columbine Massacre occurred. After the tragic attack that left twelve students, one teacher, and the two assailants dead; law enforcement found journals that the two teenagers left behind.
Such hate as what Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris possessed acted as a poison that spread throughout their entire being. It’s true that many teenagers who are passing from adolescence to adulthood experience similar feeling of hate and inadequacy as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did, but they work through their feelings and go on to becoming happy and productive adults. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did not follow this pattern; instead they began to entertain thoughts of killing those that they hated. Evidence that was collected after the incident such as journals, yearbooks, computer data, and even the weapons themselves illustrate how deep the hatred ran. Both teenagers thought long and hard about what they would need to carry out the magnitude of attack that they desired. Over the course of a year the two teenagers were able to build pipe bombs and gain access to guns and knives. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris weren’t interested in just targeting the few teenagers who picked on them during school, their focus was to kill as many students and teachers as possible. They took the time and studied the school with a careful eye in order to develop a plan that would cause the produce the greatest amount of causalities possible. Both teenagers determined that the magnitude of their killing spree would be most beneficial if they took advantage of the cafeteria in their school. After much observation they realized that the cafeteria was the focal point in Columbine High school right after the first lunch period began. They realized that there would be over 500 targets in the cafeteria so they planted as many pipe bombs as possible and set the timers to go off at the beginning of the lunch period. Again, it is quite clear that an attack of this magnitude took a lot of planning and thought, both teenagers knew exactly what they were doing when the put this treacherous plan in motion.
If you are wondering how on earth these two teenage boys were able to bring some many weapons into the school there are many theories. First of all, there was a group that was named the Trench Coat Mafia, as the name implies the teenagers that were part of this clique wore trench coats. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were not officially part of this group though they did have friends and acquaintances that were affiliated with the Trench Coat Mafia. On the day of the attack they took advantage of the theme of this clique and chose to wear trench coats to school in order to hide all of the weapons that they were taking on campus. There are many who believe that the two teenagers did not act alone. It is supposed that some of their friends knew about the events that would unfold that day and even some that helped plant pipe bombs and weapons around the school. Unfortunately there has not been enough evidence to prove these theories, the two individuals Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are the only two that have been pinpointed as the killers in the Columbine Massacre. After the shooting rampage the two teenagers took their own lives so not only does the true motive behind the twisted rampage remain a mystery but anyone who was affiliated with the events of April 20, 1999 will remain forever anonymous.
Since it is obvious from the evidence left behind that an entire year of planning went into the teenager’s killing spree the date they chose to complete this task seems like no accident. There are two significant dates in history that fall within the month of April, one on April 19th and one on April 20th. The main question that concerns this date is which day this event was actually supposed to take place on. The day of April 19th is the date in which the Oklahoma City Bombing occurred. It would have been highly coincidental if the two teenage boys had picked that particular day to unfold their hateful plan. Many believe that they might have thought about performing the killings on the 19th, but for some unknown reason they chose to wait until the 20th which is also a well known day since it is in fact the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. There is no accident that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris chose this particular day in April to attack everyone they hated at Columbine High School, they had a purpose and chose a day in history that would complement their attack in their eyes and in the eyes of all those who they believed would admire such a monstrous act.
Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris arrived at Columbine High School with the intent of blowing up the cafeteria and killing as many students as they could. In order to accomplish this feat they both carried in a huge propane bomb that weighed close to twenty pounds each. This was not as difficult as you might imagine since they chose to disguise these hand crafted death bombs in regular looking backpacks. At a glance there was nothing out of the ordinary, just two teenagers heading into the cafeteria with their backpacks. Once inside the cafeteria they placed the bag packs that contained the propane bombs in ideal locations, each bomb was set to go off just a few minutes after the first lunch period began. Once the bag packs were put in place both Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris made their way back to their cars so they could sit and wait for the explosion that was sure to follow. Fortunately for all the students and faculty that was inside the cafeteria at the time the bombs did not go off as planned. Obviously the two teenagers realized that something was wrong after there was no explosion. Instead of calling it a day and being thankful that their plan had not succeeded, the two teenagers decided to take matters into their own hands.
Again Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris entered Columbine High School wearing trench coats that hid the arsenal of weapons that they brought with them. The year of planning that went into the attack on Columbine gave the teenagers plenty of opportunity and time to get their hands on an assortment of different weapons. Aside from the pipe bombs that they were able to construct after finding instructions online they were also able to get guns and knives. Dylan Klebold went into the school equipped with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and a sawed off shotgun. Eric Harris was equipped with a 9mm carbine rifle as well as a sawed off shotgun. In addition to the automatic weapons they also carried with them a backpack of pipe bombs and knives. It was evident that the two teenagers were intent on killing as many students as they could, when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to explode they were both ready and willing to take other measures to ensure that they accomplished their goal.
They began to open fire on students who were outside of the cafeteria. Within seconds their killing rampage had begun as they shot and killed their first victim. While this occurred the pipe bombs that the two had planted around the school earlier began to explode. Unfortunately with graduation being only a few short weeks away, many of the students did not realize the magnitude of the situation. Before this date in history no one would imagine that two students would walk into their high school and just begin shooting their fellow students. Instead many students believed that this was some sort of senior prank. They didn’t realize that the guns that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were firing with were real and that the students being shot at were really hurt. It took more than a few minutes for students to comprehend the gravity of the situation, for some those few minutes were the difference between life and death. Once students and faculty realized that this was in fact not a joke, but that the two teenagers were on a killing spree they began to seek cover or run for their life. While shooting whoever they saw, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris threw pipe bombs left and right as they made their way around the cafeteria.
Students were not only shot and left to be wounded, the two teenagers were intent on killing and made sure that those who were injured were shot at close range in order to complete their agenda. After much panic, faculty were able to direct the majority of the students out of the cafeteria, when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris looked it seemed like it was empty, it was then that the two moved on to the rest of the school. Once the entered the main hallway they continued their shooting spree, again most of the students inside the school were not aware of what had transpired in the cafeteria and at first didn’t recognize how serious the situation was but it didn’t take long for them to catch on. Students and teachers found themselves either being shot at, hiding, or trying to help those who had been wounded as the two teenagers made their way through the halls. The next stop for the two teenagers was the Columbine High School Library where many more lives are taken. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walk into the library and start shooting anyone who they believe should die, many are wounded and many die at this point in the attack. The two teenagers don’t seem to take mercy on anyone, even those pleading for their lives until they spot an acquaintance that they let walk out of the library unharmed. After they feel they as if they accomplished their goal in that part of the school the two again move back into the halls.
Although their objective was to kill as many students as possible the two teenagers didn’t try to get into many of the locked classrooms that they passed on their way back to the cafeteria. Instead they returned back to their starting point in an attempt to make the original propane bombs in the cafeteria explode. Although they tried they were not able to accomplish the explosion that they desired from the very beginning of the attack. Frustrated by the turn of even Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris instead walked throughout the hallways throwing pipe bombs left and right. It seemed like they had all the time in the world as they strolled through the school, looking for targets and causing explosions, many wonder why law enforcement hadn’t made an attempt to gain access to the high school and stop the two crazed gunmen. They even took time out of their killing spree to make their way back to the library and shoot out towards the law enforcement that surrounded the school outside. Shortly after the two teenagers took their own lives while in the library and ended the gruesome attack on Columbine High School.
The Columbine Massacre was basically like a shot heard around the world. For such a tragedy to unfold in the small suburban town of Littleton Colorado broke the hearts of people throughout the world. Unfortunately due to the mass confusion and chain of events many laid wounded and bleeding for quite a while before they were rescued. The entire killing spree set in motion by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris lasted about forty five minutes, within that time frame the two teenagers they killed 13 people, twelve students and one teacher, many were wounded and injured to varying degrees. Truly this was a heart breaking tragedy that affected so many throughout the community of Littleton, Colorado. Since the two gunmen took their own lives at the end of the siege there will never be any clear answers as to what possessed to seemingly normal teenagers to perform such an evil and treacherous act upon their fellow man. Not only did this event that has come to be known as the Columbine Massacre affect those in the small town of Colorado but the event affected every school throughout the United States and many other schools throughout the world. Not only did Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris affect the way that the educational system ran but they also inspired many troubled kids to mimic the unspeakable acts that they performed on that haunting day of April 20, 1999.
After days, week, months, and even years many still try to pinpoint who to blame and what went wrong. Was it their parents, the music they listened to, the games they played, or just the fact that they got picked on that possessed them to commit such a heinous act? Unfortunately these are questions that will never be answered. What is amazing is that the two teenagers planned this crime for the entire space of a year and no one suspected a thing. To the outside world Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris seemed like average teenagers, no one suspected that they were full of such hate and violence. It is true that there were many things in their rooms such as weapons, videos, and journals that could have been easily discovered if their parents had simply looked. Before April 20, 1999 no one imagined that this kind of violence could take place in the suburbs and especially not by teenagers. The Columbine Massacre changed how people around the world viewed the educational system and those kids that attended those schools. No longer are all children and teenagers considered innocent, the event of that day made people take a harder look at everyone from the straight “A” student to the average degenerate teenager, no one seems safe anymore.
After the events that took place on April 20, 1999 all schools around the country were on high alert. There were many high schools that received false bomb threats, but after what took place in the Columbine Massacre each and every threat was taken seriously. Schools of all grades took a new imitative to put extremely detailed escape plans in order in case something of this magnitude ever happened again. No longer is school a place in which students could attend their classes, go to lunch, and intact with their friends in total safety. Many students who attended school when the Columbine Massacre took place no longer felt safe. After all; if such a horrible act of violence could occur in a small town in Colorado, then it could occur anywhere. Children in middle school would sit and map out a plan of action if anyone ever came into their school with guns or bombs. The events that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris put into action took the innocence away from every elementary, middle, and high school around the United States. The unthinkable had not only been imagined but had been carried out by the two troubled teenagers, there was nothing stopping someone else from performing a similar act of violence for whatever reason.
Not only were students, schools, and parents on high alert, but many decided to take action. After having their trust broken as far as the safety of their children is concerned, many parents decided that they would educate their children through alternate means. Parents throughout the United States decided that the only other option was to home school their children. Many parents, especially in Colorado attended home schooling seminars so that they could explore their options and find out everything that is involved in home schooling their children. State education departments throughout the United States noticed a dramatic increase in the number of inquiries they received on a weekly basis in regards to home schooling. Parents were dealing with their children’s fears about returning to public school where another incident like the Columbine Massacre was now possible. The attack hit home with many children in the state of Colorado and even in other states across the country. Children were afraid to go to school fearing what might happen when they were least expecting it. Some took the attacks harder than others and would become physically ill at the thought of going to a public school. The Columbine Massacre rocked the nation and changed how many view public education and what can occur when their children are there to learn. Not only were parents concerned about their children but the faculty had reason to have anxiety at the thought of returning to school as well. Who exactly knows what set off Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris but they didn’t care who they killed just as long as a lot of innocent people died. Teachers who are the disciplinarian in the school system now had to worry about whether a disgruntled student was going to open fire on them just because they gave them a lower grade than anticipated or sent them to the office. If such a horrible act of violence was possible because the two teenagers didn’t fit into a particular clique or were picked on through high school, what could happen next if another student felt the same hatred for their fellow students?
Since the Columbine Massacre took place other things has changed besides parents choosing to home school rather than send their children to public education. It is evident from the detail reports of the events that transpired during and after the shooting took place that the school and the local law enforcement did not have a game plan for something of this degree. The timeline of events demonstrates that once law enforcement arrived on the scene at Columbine High School they did not enter the school itself for hours after the attack had ended. What transpired after was basically a mixture of mass confusion, there were too many conflicting stories pouring in and the different sectors of law enforcement seemed to be tripping over each other. This caused many law enforcement agencies and school districts across the country to take a hard look at how they would handle a situation such as Columbine. The Colorado Legislature made it mandatory for all districts within the state to come up with some sort of organized system so that schools and law enforcement could work efficiently together. They are now expected to share any information that might hint of a violent situation in an attempt to keep a tragedy such as Columbine from ever happening again. There are now hotlines set in place that anyone who might have information about and emerging violent situation can call in and share their knowledge without revealing their identity. Unfortunately although the Legislature is requiring this of all schools in their state many have not been able to meet these standards due to budget and other factors. A new sense of awareness has come to rest upon the shoulders of school officials and students throughout the country; if such an incident could happen in a small town in Colorado then no one was safe from the unnecessary violence that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris brought to Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.
The Columbine Massacre is not simply an event in history that happened and then was forgotten. This was something that impacted not only Americans, but people throughout the world. The ones that will forever remember the events that took place on April 20, 1999 will be the students that lived through the horrific ordeal as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris terrorized the halls of Columbine High School. Many students and faculty were injured as the two crazed teenagers fired guns and threw explosive throughout the cafeteria, hallways, and library of the school. Many will not only carry the emotional scars of that day, but will also show the physical scars that they carry as a constant reminder. Many of the students share the same tattoo in an effort to make sure they never forget. The tattoo is of the letter C in light purple which stands for Columbine and the date of April 20th inside the C. No one will ever know why two teenage boys who were just weeks away from their own graduation decided to destroy the lives of so many. Instead of choosing to move onto the next stage in their lives they choose to slaughter many innocent people who had a bright future of their own that would never be realized. The community of Littleton, Colorado decided that they would not let what happened fade into the pages of history; instead they began planning a memorial for those who lost their life on that tragic day.
After much collaboration throughout the Littleton, Colorado community a design for the memorial was finally agreed upon. The official ground breaking of the memorial took place on June 16, 2006; it was a full seven years before the community was able to raise enough money to have the memorial designed and construction started. There were many delays such as funding that postponed the building of the memorial for such a long time frame after the attack. Victims of the attack on Columbine returned for the ground breaking and even Bill Clinton was there to say a few words about how the attack affected the nation as a whole. There were many tears and memories that flowed on that day as students, parents, and faculty remember the terror that gripped their lives on April 20, 1999. Once construction began it only took a year for the memorial to be completed. Even though that the complexity of the memorial changed throughout the seven years before breaking ground, the fact still remained that the community of Littleton, Colorado needed a place that would honor the innocent lives that were taken, a place that would remind them of the past and give them hope for the future.
Although no memorial will be able to erase the events of the past the suburban community of Littleton, Colorado has a new sense of community. No one is going to stand by while they watch something that looks out of place. They are now more aware of their surrounding in an attempt to prevent something such as the Columbine Massacre from ever happening again. The Columbine Massacre didn’t just happen to a town in Colorado; it became very real for every high school student who was attending school at that time. Families huddled around television and read through newspapers as their hearts poured out for those in Littleton, Colorado. Many changes have taken place since April 20, 1999. Parents instruct their children to be more aware of their surroundings and that if something seems out of the ordinary with a friend or acquaintance to let someone know. High school, middle school, and even elementary school students are now carrying cellular phones. Parents are making sure that if their children do become caught up in a situation that is uncomfortable or even life threatening that they have a means to contact law enforcement if necessary. Parents are taking a stand, whether it is through home schooling or just giving their children the tools to keep them safer, they are not putting their full trust in just sending their child to school and hoping for the best. The Columbine Massacre is an event in history that will forever be remembered, especially the news clips of masses of teenagers running out of the high school, some bleeding, some sobbing, and then those thirteen who came out in body bags, it is an image that will never be erased from the memories of those involved in the events of April 20, 1999 or for those who watched while holding their children just a little closer.
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