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Tragedy of Columbine 10 Years Later

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Ten years has passed since the worst school shooting in history.

Columbine Highschool

It's just business as usual in our kids' schools: Metal detectors, security guards and  emergency response drills. It wasn't always that way. It took one of the most horrific school tragedies to turn our kids' schools into semi-protected fortresses of learning.

It all happened April 20, 1999 when two Littleton, Colorado teenage boys wearing menacing black trench coats laden with guns and explosives stormed their high school, killing 12 classmates and a teacher before turning guns on themselves. 

Dozens more were injured, including Patrick Ireland who, in that iconic image, became the "boy in the window." Shot twice in the head and once in the foot, the 17-year-old bent on survival pulled himself to an open window and was ultimately saved by the SWAT team called to the scene. Today, Ireland is 27 years old and working in the financial services field.

Ireland tells ABC News he has moved on with his life, but had to convince his mother to do the same. "She was harboring a lot of anger," Ireland, "to sum it up, I basically said, 'Please forgive them.' She looked and asked, 'Why?' Because they were confused and didn't know what they were doing."

In the past, media attention focused on killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. But today, Oprah Winfrey opted to cancel her prepared show commemorating today's anniversary because, as she wrote on Twitter, "I decided to pull the Columbine show today. After reviewing it, I thought it focused too much on the killers. Today, hold a thought for the Columbine community. This is a hard day for them,"

Our hearts go out to all the survivors and families of the Columbine tragedy.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Mark April 20, 2009, 4:30 PM

Tragedy, when I grew up you got into a fist fight. Today everything goes? Media, Television, News, Movie industry and Video Games are all so violent blood and guts compared to 20 years ago. Desensitization to this over the years and two parents working or single parent our world has changed. I like to stay positive and move forward why must we worship Tragedy.

K&C's mom April 20, 2009, 11:13 PM

I live in Colorado, and will never forget this day!!! I remember watching the tv and bawling, I remember yelling “catch him, catch him” when Patrick leaned out that window. A very tragic day!!!! May God continue to bless the victim’s and their families!!!!

ashley April 21, 2009, 7:27 AM

I was a junior in high school and I will NEVER forget coming home from school that day and watching it all unfold. Then in the weeks that followed all kinds of weird people at our school were getting accused of writing out hit lists. The Columbine shooting had a crazy affect on everyone. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. Now that I have a son in school, I think about what could happen, and it totally freaks me out. Pray to God these things stop!!

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