Section Five: Judgment Day

In Columbine, by Dave Cullen, section five concentrates on the impact of Columbine, on students and families, several years later. The structure of this story is in chronological order, starting with events before Columbine and ending in the events several years after Columbine. While reading, this order makes you feel as if you were there throughout the whole event because Cullen provides completely accurate, individual accounts of several of the hundreds affected by this massacre. Looking at victims, such as Patrick Ireland, plays such an emotional toll on the reader. He started out with an innocent crush on Laura, planning his steps to becoming the Valedictorian. Then, he was brutally shot and paralyzed from the right side, being faced with the terrifying possibility that he’d never be able to function like he did before. He ends up slowly recovering through months on end of hard work, and happily dancing with his bride around the dance floor. Cases like his are incredibly motivating because after all that he went through, he was still able to remain hopeful and say, “When I fell out the window, I knew somebody would catch me…That’s what I need to tell you: that I knew the loving world was there all the time.” He was able to overcome the events of Columbine and move on with his life.

Although the victims of Columbine were properly mourned and honored, students that go to the high school today are able to view it as a distant memory, not an everyday tragedy that occurred in the school that they go to every day of their lives. It is reassuring to see that after such a national tragedy, communities are able to recover and move on with their lives. Today, Columbine is seen as a high school in their community, not the name of one of the nation’s most devastating school shootings. After reading this book, it gave me a broader understanding over the need for appropriate programs for students that are mentally ill. While reading about Dylan and Eric, who could’ve easily been seen as two normal high school kids to an untrained eye, I was amazed at how they were able to blindside everyone in the process of planning this event. These two kids had two completely different goals, homicide and suicide. Sadly, the murderers found comfort in one another’s instability and Columbine was the irreversible result.