Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 of their classmates and a teacher and injured 23 others before killing themselves. Journalist and author Dave Cullen has spent the time since the events of April 20, 1999 investigating and debunking the myths surrounding the shooting.
After 10 years the myths surrounding this tragedy have finally been cleared up, though it is doubtful that the majority of Americans will let go of their collective memory of the events. It has been such a long time and we remember most clearly the things we first heard when the tragedy was still fresh.
Until reading these facts, I believed the stories I had been told. One particular story I remember was the girl who said she believed in God before being murdered. At the Nazarene Youth Conference in Toronto the summer after the shootings, I remember them playing a video about Columbine where they played up the killing of that girl, and I believed it. I was really moved by the story at the time. As part of a week of spiritual uplifting, it added to the sense of responsibility that we had as Christians to proclaim our faith no matter the consequences. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was moved. Turns out it wasn’t true and the girl who really said she believed in God survived after having a short conversation with the killer about her beliefs. He then became distracted and left her alone.
The other part of this story that personally affected me was the “Trench Coat Mafia” myth. My birthday is April 16 and I got a brand new, black trench coat from my mom. Four days later the Columbine massacre happened and all of the rumors of them belonging to the trench coat mafia started to come out. I continued wearing my coat through the whole ordeal because I liked it and wasn’t one to quit wearing something I liked because it was associated with something bad that had happened. Needless to say, I got a lot of dirty looks at school and more notably was brought into a meeting with the Principle, Vice Principle, and school counselor to discuss my coat. I was strongly encouraged to stop wearing my coat and questioned about my mental health, friends, potential bullying, musical taste, etc. All of the things that were supposed to be the reasons for the killings. Obviously, if you know me you know that I am not the kind of person that should be suspected of planing a school shooting, but you also know that I never stopped wearing the coat. I even got a call from my grandma telling me I should stop wearing it.
After all of the crap I got about wearing that coat, I finally feel somewhat vindicated.