I don't even have to label this picture for most of you to know what this is.
The picture is ingrained in our psyche.
The solace after the very presence of Evil has passed by.
I was there- day after mind bending day. Holding my two year old with a white knuckle thankful grip.
I am partial to this picture... it includes my baby brother and other kids who survived Columbine.
This was how most of the world saw the events unfold.
This is how my brother saw them.
Fast forward to yesterday.
(Deer Creek Middle School... Jefferson County Colorado.)
The same neighborhood ten years later: these kids are running for their lives.
I am not here to pound my fists or demand why.
I know why.
I am not going to blame jocks , or rock bands or even really vile video games...certainly not the teachers and law enforcement who give their days away serving others.
This grown man , as well as Dylan and Eric all have a very powerful attribute...free will.
We have one too. We can ban guns and games and jocks and music but we can not stop the fact that we all have the power to choose.
Blaming and questing for answers or solutions will not yield fruit.
We did that after Columbine and yet 3 miles down the road in probably the most highly aware and trained neighborhood and community in the world it happened, again.
Thankfully not to the same degree... With much thanks to him-
Because of his free will he chose to protect life and take no thought for his safety. He just chose to do the right thing.
But I can tell you from first hand experience, the damage to the families and students here was equally horrific and life altering.
( parents of middle school students at Deer Creek.)
The horrible reality that evil can hurt, injure, terrorize or yes -even kill you- or worse your child...exists.
The children who were violated, assaulted, threatened- who watched friends and a beloved teacher die are not pointing at others or clinching their fists in agony... they are innocently outstretching their little hands to the One who knows why.
The One who gave them the choice to demand justice- or give thanks in spite of circumstances.
My prayer for the children and parents of Deer Creek Middle School is that they will rush to remember what made the world take notice... 10 years ago. Grace that was palpable.
This is the real lesson from Columbine.
Innocence is a quality decision. We are not the sum total of what happens to us.
We have the freedom to magnify all that is good, lovely and pure at all times.
I believe these kids knew that praise was the most powerful weapon they had against the evil that had tried to destroy them.
I know ( trust me) they had struggles and pain since then. I also believe that this reflexive response is the truest picture of child like trust and the most healing choice we can make.
The kids knew that they were free.
And ultimately so are we.
I offer a special peace to Mr. Eastwoods family, I am sorry.
Thank you to the brave individuals who acted so fast ... and Dr. Benke...you are a hero whether he got the second shot off or not. Thank you.