“People will never know how far a little kindness can go”
Rachel Joy Scott
State 24: Colorado - December 19, 2017
We woke up at a Walmart in Littleton, Colorado, ready for a new and exciting day! On our cross country trip, one of our favorite ways to pass the time is Redbox! It’s hard to beat 2 hours of entertainment for a buck and a half. Now that we are ½ way finished with our cross country journey, we have seen almost every movie in Redbox! Well, except for the horror films as they contain too much negativity, and give me nightmares! Scrolling through the entire list of movies in search of one we haven’t seen has become an annoying ritual! Last night, we were overjoyed to come across a movie we had yet to see entitled; “I am not ashamed”. The movie tells the story of Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first murder victim at the Columbine High School Massacre! It seemed like an appropriate movie to watch since we were currently in the town of Littleton near where the tragedy occurred. The movie is based on Rachael’s journal entries, and her family, friends and teacher’s recollections in the 18 months prior to her murder. After watching the movie of this remarkable young lady whose life was tragically cut short, we instantly realized we had found the Cross Country Couple's "Famous Person" for Colorado; Rachel Joy Scott.
On April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School, 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott was shot multiple times by Eric Harris, while eating lunch with her friend Richard Castaldo on the lawn outside of the school's library. Richard was also shot multiple times, and left paralyzed from his injuries. According to Richard’s account of the last moments of Rachel's life, Eric Harris asked Rachel, “Do you believe in God?”, and Rachel replied, “You know I do”. Harris then said, “Then go be with him”, and then shot Rachel Joy Scott in the head!
The following day, Rachel’s red Acura was turned into a flower-shrouded memorial in the parking lot of Columbine High School, and so numerous were the flowers the mourners left, her car was entirely entombed! On April 24, 1999, over 2000 people attended Rachel’s funeral, and it was televised to millions across the nation. At the time, her funeral was the most watched event in the history of CNN, with viewership even surpassing Princess Diana’s Funeral!
In the years following her death, Rachel has been the subject of several books, and was posthumously awarded the 2001 National Kindness Award for Student of the Year by the Acts of Kindness Association. However, Rachel’s greatest legacy was the writings and drawings her family discovered after her murder. She foretold her early death by drawing a picture of human eyes crying 13 tears over a rose, which was the exact number of victims murdered in the Columbine Massacre! Her journal entries expressed a deep love for God, the desire to be used by him to help others, and to impact the world. One month prior to her murder, Rachel authored a two-page essay entitled, “My Ethics; My Codes of Life. In the essay, Rachel advocates her belief, “People will never know how far a little kindness can go”, and “Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer”. Rachel’s writings was the inspiration for the founding of an international school outreach program called Rachel’s Challenge, which is the most popular school assembly program in America!
When Rachel’s mother was cleaning out her room, she found the outline of a hand print on the back of her daughter’s dresser. Inside of the hand print the following words were written, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott, and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts”. To date, over 22 million people have been impacted for the good by hearing Rachel’s story thus fulfilling her childhood prediction!
After departing the Littleton Walmart, we drove across town to Clement Park to view the Cross Country Couple's "Can’t Miss Attraction" for Colorado “The Columbine Memorial” The Columbine High School Massacre was a school shooting that occurred on April 20, 1999. The perpetrators, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students, one teacher, and injured 21 others, after which both committed suicide! At the time, it was the deadliest shooting in US history! The shooting occurred in Columbine; an unincorporated community next to Littleton, Colorado. We chose not to not to visit Columbine High School as it would emphasize the evil events which occurred there! Instead, we chose to view the monument which memorializes the lives of those whom were forever impacted on that dark and fateful day.
The Columbine Memorial is a two-part monument. The first is called the Ring of Remembrance, and honors the 12 students and 1 teacher whom lost their lives. This aspect of the memorial consists of a large circular stone wall with 13 plaques, and each are engraved with the personal reflections by the family members of each victim. Nate and I read all 13 plaques, and I think we made it to the 3rd before we were both crying. The victim’s families’ expressions of loss, pain, love, anger, and forgiveness was so very raw, real, and uncensored! Please see the pictures below! Rachel Joy Scott’s plaque is pictured first.
The 2nd part of the Columbine Memorial is called the Wall of Healing, and honors the surviving victims, first responders, and all who were affected by the events of April 20, 1999. Flanking the far side of the Ring of Remembrance, the Wall of Healing includes engraved quotes from the students of Columbine, the citizens of Littleton, the first responders, and even Bill Clinton. Again, the quotes displayed express the tremendous shock, loss, and pain this community endured! Please see the pictures below.
Littleton is a town of 41,737 residents, and located 10 miles outside of Denver. Normally, I would not want to live so close to a major city, but Denver was significantly better than most metropolises I have encountered! Littleton is also 55 miles North of Colorado Springs, another major city with a population of 465,101. Both cities offer ample job opportunities, entertainment venues, and nursing schools for Nate. The most shocking aspect of our visit to Littleton, was it was absolutely the last place in the world you would expect a mass casualty school shooting to occur. There were no gangs, no homeless, no abandon buildings, no graffiti, no check cashing stores, no garbage spewed about, and no fences around properties or bars over windows. What we saw in Littleton was a safe, clean and beautiful middle class suburb! The downtown was cute, bustling, in business and frequented by the locals. Women were jogging and walking their dogs throughout the town. People actually stopped to speak to each other when in public. There was every store you could want nearby, and plenty of parks if you preferred some time alone. Once such park, contained the most adorable library we have come across on our entire cross country trip. The single story building was constructed to mimic the curvature of the nearby pond. Inside the library, there was floor to ceiling glass walls with comfy chairs overlooking the pond. I could picture myself sitting there on a sunny Saturday morning engrossed in a book too good to put down! Although we are not from the area, everyone we met was pleasant, kind and courteous to these two out of towner's. For the few hours we were in Littleton, the people and the community made us feel as if it was our home! Both Nate and I were both very sad when it was time to leave!
Even almost 2 decades after the horrific events at Columbine, the strength within this community was still palpable! Just walking around town, you could clearly see people genuinely cared about each other! This is a very rare and attractive quality in a town! It’s just a tragedy the price Littleton paid for their strong sense of community came at the expense of a tremendous loss of life, and the peace that comes from obscurity! Our former home state of Connecticut has the current distinction as the site of the deadliest mass school shooting in US history. On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, fatally shot 20 children, 6 adult staff members, and his own mother before committing suicide. On our cross country trip, whenever we tell people we are from Connecticut, the Sandy Hook School shooting is usually one of the first topics they make reference too. What is even more tragic is the evil actions of a few possesses the power to shape the public’s perception of an entire geographical area. If you want reasons to dislike Connecticut why not focus on political corruption, high cost of living, overpopulation, and sky high taxes! As former Connectites, we know all too well not to judge a state because of one, or in Colorado’s case because of two, deranged individuals!
All of the aforementioned reasons in this blog post inspired Lori and I to consider Littleton as our potential new home. Colorado is impressing the Cross Country Couple at every stop, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the state has in store! After departing the Columbine Memorial, we drove 46 miles South to a Walmart in Monument , CO where we spent the night.