- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2007

LITTLETON, Colo. — Eight years ago, terrified students tried to escape the gunmen terrorizing Columbine High School by fleeing to the adjacent fields at Clement Park.

Yesterday, the park reprised its role as a refuge for 5,000 people who gathered to dedicate the Columbine Memorial to the 13 victims of the tragedy.

“This community needs to ensure that the rest of the world remembers what happened on that day,” said dedication speaker Dawn Anna, whose daughter Lauren Townsend was killed that day. “We need not to run from what happened on April 20, 1999.”

Speakers said the memorial would give visitors a place to reflect on the events of that day. Many still visit the high school to pay their respects.

Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis read the names of the 13 killed in the shooting. Columbine graduate Patrick Ireland, who was shot in the school’s library and had to relearn to walk, talk and read, said he has tried to maintain a positive attitude in the shooting’s aftermath.

“It did not define who I am as a person, nor who we are,” Mr. Ireland said. “It certainly did not set the tone for the rest of my life.”

Thirteen doves were released to honor those who were killed, followed by another 200 to represent those injured in the shooting and the community members who rallied around them in the aftermath.

The Columbine Memorial Committee spent years raising $1.5 million for the tribute. Contributions came from more than 2,500 donors, and Pinkard Construction Inc. coordinated the construction for free. Several speakers thanked former President Bill Clinton, who helped raise money for the project.

The memorial’s outer wall includes notes etched into the sandstone by students, teachers, injured victims and community members. The inner wall has messages from family members of those who were killed.

The memorial contains no mention of the two gunmen, Columbine students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who committed suicide in the school library shortly after the massacre.

Twelve students and one teacher were killed in the rampage, and more than 20 others were injured.

The memorial project generated some controversy earlier this year when committee members asked for changes in an inscription by Brian Rohrbough, whose son, Daniel, was killed in the shooting.

Mr. Rohrbough refused to soften his message, and it ultimately was included as he and Daniel’s mother had written it.

The inscription, which was kept private until yesterday, opens with Daniel saying, “Dad, I have a question: Why?”

His father answers: “My son, in a Nation that legalized the killing of innocent children in the womb; in a County where authorities would lie and cover up what they knew and what they did; in a Godless school system your life was taken. … Dan, I’m sorry.”

The inscription then recounts Daniel’s last words to his father: “I love you, Dad. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

The message ends with a verse from the Bible, “There is no peace for the wicked,” says the Lord.

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