LITTLETON – Saturday marked 20 years since the tragedy in Littleton that went on to bring a new definition for mass-shootings, and altered the word “Columbine” forever.
Saturday afternoon, the community gathered at Clement Park in Littleton to remember the 12 students and teacher who died at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.
The theme of the ceremony was to remember, reflect, and recommit.
The community wants everyone to recommit to kindness, to their community, and to serving others.
“Each morning when I wake, the first thing I do is recite the name of my beloved 13,” said Frank DeAngelis, Principal of Columbine High School from 1996-2014.
“We will always remember the teachers, and the educators who did so much to protect us,” shared Mandy Cooke, a survivor of the shooting and a current staff member at Columbine High School.
The memories of that day are still vivid.
“Students started coming from all over the building,” Cooke recalled.
“When I found my friend […] she said that there were people shooting.”
Now, the survivors and the community rallying around them are finding a way to turn this day into something good.
“Each one of us has our stories,” Cooke added.
“But in the days, months, and years following April 20th, we found our new normal.”
The community chooses to commemorate it a day of service.
“Students and staff, alumni, community members come together in memory of our beloved 13 to perform acts of kindness for first responders, senior citizens, neighboring schools, community parks, homeless shelters and others in need of service,” said Governor Jared Polis.
They’re encouraging their neighbors everywhere to join them.
“It’s our responsibility to carry the torch for a brighter future,” DeAngelis emphasized.
“A future that is filled with love for one another. We must pass this torch to future generations.”
At the ceremony, Polis announced that moving forward, April 20 will be also known as a day of service across the state.