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Colorado Remembrance of Columbine Shooting Victims

Aired April 20, 2000 - 1:16 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're approaching 11:21 Mountain time. That's the time for the moment of silence in Denver, Colorado. In advance of that, the governor of Colorado is speaking now in Denver at the state capitol. That's Governor Bill Owens. Let's listen:


GOV. BILL OWENS (R), COLORADO: ... lives of our loved ones and friends. But not today, because today is about the victims of Columbine and their families. Today is about the survivors of the tragedy who every day remember their friends, and every day continue to look to God for comfort and guidance. Today is about Columbine's students and faculty. Today is about the Columbine community and about Colorado, and the strength we found within ourselves to help each other in our time of need.

Today is about the students and the teachers, the paramedics and the police officers who displayed tremendous acts of heroism. Some survived the tragedy and some did not. But we will always remember how they risked their personal safety for the sake of others. And as a pastor in Littleton put it, how they were God's way of being in our presence even in the face of evil.

Today is about the angels who are watching over us, helping us to heal and helping us to remember. The community of Littleton and the state of Colorado has spent the last year dealing with the tragedy of horrible proportions. But we came through that tragedy with a stronger sense of community and with a resolve to ensure that the deaths of the victims will not be in vain.

I believe strongly that this resilience comes to us from those who lost their lives. They are now in heaven on our side keeping watch over us every day. In life, they taught us about love and laughter, hope and the importance of family and friends. And in death, they have taught us about the desire to help others, the courage to overcome grief, faith in God, and again, the importance of family and friends.

As we continue today to search for answers, asking how and why, it's my hope that we will also continue in our efforts to heal our culture and heed the lessons learned from this tragedy.

I want to read to you from Psalm 11, words that have provided comfort for me as I questioned so many times why evil prevailed over good one year ago this morning.

Psalm 11 tells us that, "in the Lord I have taken shelter. The Lord is in his holy temple. The Lord's throne is in heaven. His eyes watch and examine all people. The Lord approves of the godly, but not the wicked, not those who love violence. Certainly the Lord is just. He rewards godly deeds. The upright will experience his favor."

I ask all of you this morning to continue to pray for the students and faculty of Columbine High School. As hard as this is for us today, the pain being felt by those who were in the school that day and by their families and friends is that much deeper. I ask you to continue to pray for the families of those who were taken from us far too early. May they find some comfort in knowing that their loved ones, as St. Francis of Assisi said, are now "instruments of peace for the Lord."

And I ask you to to continue to pray for children all over the country, that they not see violence as the solution to their problems, that they always have someone they can talk to when life brings them too many burdens, that they make responsible choices and that they be tought the difference between right and wrong.

Today is about remembering the good in those who are looking down on us right now. They're asking us to remember the words from the book of Hebrew: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Now please join me in a moment of silence as we each pray in our own way for those who suffered from the tragedy at Columbine.


WATERS: Governor Bill Owens and his wife now proceeding to plant what they're calling columbine flowers following that moment of reflection on this moment one year ago when that terrible tragedy began at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

"The people of Littleton aren't alone in their mourning," says the president of the United States, who today sent message that, in part, reads: "The first lady and I are with you in the spirit of comfort and prayer." The president said what happened at Columbine High School a year ago, "pierced the soul of America." He says "time hasn't dimmed our memory or softened our grief at the loss of teenageers whose lives were cut off in the promise of youth." The president says the country should honor the memory of those who died to make America a safer place for all children.

Nearby in Littleton, Colorado is CNN's Jeff Flock, who is at Columbine High School where the remembrances continue today -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Lou. Just as we speak now, the students who attended -- elected to come to school at Columbine today are out on the athletic field beyond the gaze of our cameras, as I think is probably perfectly appropriate, out there about to release balloons into the air. They had a private ceremony and memorial in the gymnasium at Columbine High this morning. And that's how they are marking the time.


WATERS: "Amazing Grace" in Denver, Colorado. And there's nothing like the bagpipes to evoke those tears of remembrance on this solemn occasion for the folks of Colorado.

Jeff Flock, we understand that Columbine's attendance has dropped steadily this week. Many students apparently did not even want to be around for this anniversary.

FLOCK: Indeed, down by a third yesterday, although, by our count out at the school this morning, it appeared that hundreds certainly -- I don't know the exact count -- but hundreds certainly were in attendance at the memorial service as they now prepare to release those balloons.

You know, we saw the columbine, the flower, just a bit ago. The columbine is, of course, Colorado's state flower. It used to be in this state when you talked about Columbine, you meant something beautiful. Unfortunately, it's taken on a very different meaning which is being commemorated here today, Lou.

WATERS: All right. Jeff Flock will remain with us from Littleton, Colorado. A community rememberance called, "A Time to Remember, A Time to Hope" begins in an hour from now and we plan live coverage of that.



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