Littleton is part of the Denver metropolitan area, located in the southwest corner, parts of it bordering the foothills of the Rockies. It has a population of about 41,000 at last count. It is the typical American suburban community, in my humble estimation.
The sun sets behind the foothills of the Front Range, where the Rocky Mountains begin in Colorado.
The photo above was taken on May 18, 2017. That is not a misprint. May 18. Thirty -one days before the first day of Summer. Four inches of snow fell in Littleton. In the foothills just to the west more than two feet fell in some places. Colorado is famous for this kind of weird weather at the wrong time of the year.
Thanks to the U.S. postal zip code system, Littleton gets the blame for being home to the most infamous high school in America, and quite possibly the world. But Columbine High School is actually located in the unincorporated community of Columbine and is not part of the Littleton public school system. To see it today you wouldn’t know Columbine was any different than a thousand other high schools across the country. But in a park just behind the campus there is a memorial that proves otherwise.
On April 20, 1999, two very disturbed teenage boys strode calmly into the school building just after 11 a.m. and began murdering their classmates. In all, twelve students and a teacher were killed, another 24 were injured. Their motives were never clearly established, and most likely never will be. Approximately 50 minutes after they began their rampage the killers turned their guns on themselves and committed suicide.
The memorial is in a quiet spot, carved into a hillside. To the west is an amazing view of the Rocky Mountains rising up from the plains. The wall pictured above is called the Wall of Healing and it is dedicated to the injured survivors, first responders and others who were affected by the attack.
The Wall of Healing has memorable quotes from survivors, parents and first responders as well as the President of the United States at the time, Bill Clinton. The one that made the biggest impression on me was the one above, attributed to an anonymous student.
The memorial was dedicated in September, 2007. Each of the slain has an engraved stone in the Ring of Remembrance in the center. Written on each one are tributes composed by parents, mostly, and they are heartbreaking. As I read them I thought about how incredibly hard it must have been to express, in just the right words, how much these children were loved, knowing that thousands of people would read them for perhaps hundreds of years to come. I remembered how I agonized over a few happy sentences of congratulation for my own children’s high school yearbooks. I can’t even imagine having to write something like this.