Even if you don’t remember the date of April 20, 1999, the day itself known as Columbine will forever be the day that everything changed.
I was in seventh grade, in the middle of class, when the first shots were fired in Columbine High School sixteen years ago. I don’t recall knowing about the shooting until I got home from school and saw it plastered all over the television. The image of the boy, now known as Patrick Ireland, hanging out of the library window trying to escape the horror inside has been forever etched in my memory. I along with the rest of the world was shocked, terrified, and utterly confused over the idea of students firing guns inside of a high school. At 13 years old, school was the place for friends, teachers, and a lot of homework but overall it was a sanctuary from the outside world. That day in April would not only forever change my perception of that sanctuary but the world’s as well.
It’s unreal to think that the tragedy of Columbine hit its’ 15th anniversary last year and the names of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold remain infamously linked to the utter mayhem they ensued on that Colorado campus. What was their goal? To be bigger than Oklahoma City and leave behind a legacy of violence and tragedy. Dave Cullen’s book, “Columbine,” brings to light the darkest hours, days, and even years surrounding the effects of the Columbine massacre while addressing myths and stories through thorough research and evidence.
The victims, the people of JeffCo (Jefferson County), and the world were forever changed by the events of that day. Although the media lights have darkened and the newspapers have found other headlines, the pain in Columbine continues to be very real. Cullen’s “Columbine” although heavily encompasses the life of the shooters, also brings humanity back into the picture by giving a name to each victim; their first and last name. Each is described as an individual rather than a Columbine number and how their life before, the day of, and after has drastically changed. That boy from the window that I remembered so vividly from my TV screen, Patrick Ireland, had reappeared with an even bigger story to tell. He was shot and paralyzed on one side as he made his way out the window to try and save his life. He was in the library studying at the time in hopes of becoming his class valedictorian and going off to college, a future most of us can relate to. His story transported me back to my own high school library and what I would do, if anything, if I was in the same situation. This is what this book does to you; it all becomes so real.
That realness and no holds barre tone of “Columbine” also translated through exploring who the shooters really were. They were not members of the “Trench Coat Mafia” or outcasts and Marilyn Manson worshipers. Harris was the boy filled with hate on a mission of destruction. Klebold was downright sad and depressed with little desire to live or die in this world. This inside look into the psyche of both killers is rather intriguing and at times horrifying.
After reading this book, you will do what I did and Google one word, “Columbine.” Cullen gives readers a better understanding of Columbine, it’s people, and how it forever changed the world. Do yourself a favor and shed what the media told you and take some time to read the facts in this book.