Digging Into History: We Are Columbine


Sammi Buckley, Journalist

Students today share a common fear of the coronavirus. However, 21 years ago, fear took a different shape–the shape of an automatic weapon. Columbine infected our country with the terrifying danger of school shootings. 

When one hears the name “Columbine”, dread and fear sting the body. Yet, do we really know what happened? What emotions were felt? How was the Littleton, Colorado community affected? The most reliable sources are first-hand witnesses. In the HULU documentary We Are Columbine, four 1999 freshmen return to Columbine High School and relive that tragic day. 

“It was a typical April day in Colorado. Clear blue skies, 70 degrees out. It was Spring, it was the best time of the year,” recalled Gustavo (Gus) D’Arthenay. Yet on April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris entered the high school where they shot and killed 13 individuals and injured 20. Pipe bombs were hidden underneath lunch tables in duffle bags, but few of them went off. “It (the pipe bomb) sounded sort of like the band coming down the hallway banging their instruments,” claimed Jaimi Norden. For years after this, many witnesses suffered from insomnia and triggers, such as balloons popping and sirens. 

As someone who lived in Littleton during the time of the shooting, my aunt, Diane Buckley, was able to give me some insight on the atmosphere. “Thank God I didn’t have any family there,” she commented. “That was probably my first thought.” After finding out about the situation, everyone was glued to the television. Seeing the students and parents being interviewed was emotional and heartbreaking. “The community was in shock,” Diane said of the aftermath. “They were emotionally numb.” To put it in perspective, Columbine was the first mass school shooting in the United States. Mrs. Buckley also mentioned the notable support the district received from the rest of the nation, a country who, according to ABC News, has suffered 11 mass shootings since.

It is important to remember all history, tragic or not. I highly encourage any student or parent to watch We Are Columbine if you are able. I don’t want to spoil anything, but anyone who is in a school environment will find this documentary terrifying, yet touching. The world continues to change daily and it is important to stay educated and safe.