On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, however this day was different than all the rest. What happened that day would come to be known as The Columbine High School Massacre. Harris and Klebold killed 12 of their fellow students and a teacher before commiting suicide in the school library (“Columbine High School Shooting Fast Facts”). Cassie Bernall, 17, Steven Curnow, 14, Corey Depooter, 17, Kelly Fleming, 16, Matthew Ketcher, 16, Daniel Mauser, 15, Daniel Rohrbough, 15, William “Dave” Sanders, 47, Rachel Scott, 17, Isaiah Shoels, 18, John Tomlin, 16, Lauren Townsend, 18, and Kyle Velasquez, 16, will never swim in a lake, will never watch the sunset, will never even simply walk down the street again (“Columbine High School Shooting Fast Facts”). A world of possibilities was stolen from them and the world we live in will never be the same. Since April 20, 1999, everyone has asked the same question: How could this happen?
People tried to come up with reasons behind why they did what they did. People came up with many theories. Everyone grasped for answers. Many blamed music, media, video games, and more. People blamed easy access to guns, racism, neo-nazism, a wall between church and state that had grown too strong, or the boys were simply “bad seeds”(Gerdes). The real answers are within Harris and Klebold’s psychology. “…Dave Cullen, author of the 2009 book Columbine, described Harris as the “callously brutal mastermind” while Klebold was a “quivering depressive”…”(“Columbine Shooting”). Harris and Klebold latched onto each other. Their friendship turned toxic and eventually fatal. There were, of course, signs as to what they were planning. About a year earlier Harris and Klebold had broken into a van and stolen electronics. They were placed in a diversion program but graduated early (Gerdes). There were little signs but in reality no one saw what was coming. This was a mistake no one wanted to make again.
America was changed forever after April 20, 1999. America never truly healed. Today’s students live in constant fear, not of tests but of AK-47s. There has been a school shooting almost every month for the past 20 years (Cullen). However, not much was learned. Eleven days after the shooting the NRA held a meeting a short distance from the school (Gerdes). People continue to push this problem away, as if it is not happening. On April 20, 1999 thirteen innocent people lost their lives while going through a normal day at school. That should have been enough to spark change but instead countless others have lost their lives in tragedies such as Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Parkland. Still, it is as if we have learned nothing. Someone needs to shine a light on the truth. In 2016 Sue Klebold published a book titled A Mother’s Reckoning. We should learn from people’s lives and first hand experiences that way no more lives are lost. “When we can do a better job of helping people before their lives are in crisis, the world will become safer for all of us”(Klebold).
My generation was born after Columbine. “We have all grown up conditioned to be afraid. And we are sick and tired of being afraid”(Hogg). We have had active shooter drills since kindergarten. We have never lived in a world where school is safe. One would assume something as devastating as Columbine would have sparked change. However, it seems to have done the opposite. Since April 20, 1999 over 200 people have died in school shootings (Hogg). Columbine set off a domino effect that we are still experiencing nearly 20 years after the shooting. Today’s students are still living in the aftermath. In 2012 Adam Lanza showed up at Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 people. Found with Adam Lanza’s belongings was Columbine memorabilia (Klebold). In 2012, I was seven years old. I was in the second grade. The 20 children that died should be starting high school next year, just like me. It could have been me. It could have been my friends. Too many people have lost their lives for us to sit back and do nothing.
We need to learn from Columbine. The biggest lesson to be learned from Columbine is “If you see something, say something”. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did not hide everything they were planning. If someone says/posts/does something concerning report it. Even if it’s just a joke we are far past this being a joking matter. Children are losing their lives. However, we cannot live in fear. “Their vision was to create a nightmare so devastating and apocalyptic that the entire world would shudder in their power”(“The Depressive and The Psychopath”). We cannot let them win. We need to be strong. A simple joke about a school shooting could be them letting someone see inside. You can never be too careful. We need to come together and stand up for the youth of our nation. We are Marjory Stoneman Douglas strong. We are Virginia Tech strong. We are Sandy Hook strong. We are Columbine strong.