Reflections from Third Anniversary

Another difficult day has come and gone: the third anniversary of the tragedy at Columbine. For us it was a day of mixed emotions.

Last year, the day of the second anniversary was overcast, just as it was the day we buried Daniel. However, on our way to the cemetery, we saw a hopeful, wondrous sign: a herd of deer along the C-470 freeway, a couple of miles from where we saw a herd on the day we buried Daniel. Then, while we were at the

cemetery, the clouds opened up a bit and the sun shone through, just like it did on April 26, 1999.

There were no such wonderful signs this year. It again started out cool and overcast, but the clouds never cleared for us at the cemetery, and there were no deer along the highway. But all was not lost. Our spirits were lifted as we spent the rest of the day entertaining our precious little Madeline at the Butterfly Pavilion and at the Children's Museum.

More important for me (Tom) on that third anniversary, I had a sort of revelation as I jogged that morning. While this is nothing spectacular, it occurred to me that after all the pain the Columbine community has been through, there is a need for a reconciliation. There has been so much anger:

  • Anger of victims toward the killers, the County Sheriff, the parents of the killers, and the three young people who helped the killers buy their guns;
  • Anger of some in the Columbine community that the story has lingered on so long and tainted the community's reputation;
  • Anger in too many other forms to list here.

At some point we must acknowledge that our souls are aching from all the anger we are carrying with us. At some point some we must acknowledge that our anger will not bring back our loved ones, and that our loved ones probably wish would free ourselves of these harmful feelings. At some point we must

reconcile with each other, as hard as that may be, because that is what God asks of us.

When I speak of reconciliation, I speak of something other than "forgiveness." Reconciliation requires us to face each other, and to acknowledge that we may have harmed one another. We must acknowledge each others' pain. We must acknowledge that we must move on to greater and stronger feelings.

I think it would helpful for the Columbine community to reconcile itself in a significant and somewhat public way. In this way we can show the world what one community can do to heal itself, in a very meaningful way. Yes, I'm suggesting that a reconciliation would entail a gathering of the victims' families, the killers' families, law enforcement and school officials, community members, and others who are willing to come. What I'm suggesting seems impossible to pull off. And perhaps it is. But hope springs eternal. We must be able to try to reach for something higher, something better.

What I'm suggesting is not something that could happen soon. At a minimum it would seem a reconciliation could not happen until lawsuits are resolved, until the community feels confident that all evidence has been released, until people are convinced of the need for such a healing event. That might mean two years. Perhaps five. Perhaps more. But the wait is worth it, for I think

reconciliation is something that would greatly move us along spiritually and serve as a wonderful example to the victims of other horrific crimes.

I think that some of the victims' families and others in the community have already reached varying levels of reconciliation, but I think it is important that many of us do it together, as a community.

How would it be done? How would we reconcile? What would we say? Well, I have a few rough ideas, but nothing concrete. The details are a bit beyond my comprehension. I welcome your suggestions. You can send them to me via the
page set up to hear suggestions on how to reduce violence. Maybe someday it will happen....

Top of page

We are all Columbine!