Columbine Memorial Honors Rachel
and Twelve Other Columbine Victims

Thousands came to get their first look at the long-awaited memorial that commemorates the lives of the thirteen victims who were killed at Columbine High School in 1999.

A beautiful, sunny day greeted visitors from all around who gathered to witness the dedication of the memorial that underwent several design changes and endured delays due to funding challenges. Additional donations followed the groundbreaking a year earlier when President Bill Clinton, who contributed over a hundred thousand dollars, injected new
momentum toward its completion. Although scaled-back some, the finished Colorado monument and the event itself brought tears of relief and reflection for many.

The unveiling began with a ceremony that was highlighted with speeches by Dawn Anna, mother of victim Lauren Townsend, Columbine survivor Patrick Ireland, Robert Easton, chairman of the Columbine Memorial Committee, and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, along with others in the Columbine community who performed and spoke.

Tears punctuated Easton's address as he stated "What is important here is the simple question of why we are here. Why build a memorial? And the simple answer, from my perspective, is that the Columbine community needs this memorial...We're gathered because the American spirit is alive and well in our community."

"This memorial reaches out to usthey reach out to us," Anna said. "Come rest, ease your burdens...remember."

Thirteen purple balloons were released as each of the names of the those killed were read by Anna. Immediately prior to the victim's families first look at the new memorial, 213 doves were released for those killed and who were injured or significantly affected by the tragedy.

Click to enlarge

The circular memorial was built at the base of the famous mound of humble earth named "Rebel Hill" that once bore the iconic thirteen wooden crosses, immediately west of Columbine High School. The focal point of the memorial is a large ring of 13 immense granite panels for each of the victims that commemorate them with inscriptions authored by their families, some containing the words of the victims themselves from their personal writings such as Kelly Flemming and Rachel Joy Scott.

An outer wall made of native flagstone surrounds the memorial and contains 31 granite panels that are engraved with various quotes from Columbine High School students and the community.

Near the entrance is a walkway that circles the perimeter of the memorial and climbs to a overlook that provides an awe-inspiring view of the memorial below, the front range looking westward, and eastward, a view of Columbine High School and the surrounding Littleton area.

Completion of the memorial is a major milestone for the Columbine community that will provide the opportunity for continued healing and reflection for many years to come. It is the only major "spontaneous", modern-day memorial of its kind in the area, the closest one like it in Oklahoma City that honors those lost in the bombing of the Mura Federal Building in the mid-nineties.

Donations from thousands of companies, organizations and individuals made the memorial possible through their generous support. The Columbine Memorial Committee raised over 1.6 million dollars and acquired over $400,000 in in-kind materials and services. Construction began on the memorial in June 2006 and was designed by DHM Design in Denver who also designed the WWII Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey and Mount Rushmore.

Photography by Michael Tamburello - ©2007 Tamburello Media Group