American Made

Columbine High School Shooting: Victims & Killers - HISTORY

The image above turned twenty-three years old on April 19th. It shows a group of students standing outside of Columbine High School after Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris laid siege to a student population, resulting in the deaths of twelve students and one teacher. Armed with semi-automatic rifles as well as several pistols and explosives, the teenagers roamed the halls and library of the school for twenty minutes before committing suicide.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department would later release a statement which read in part,

While our community struggles with (the question of why) and grieves those who were lost, we remain united in one hope—that our nation shall never see anything resembling the tragedy at Columbine High School again.

So much for that sentiment.

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, more than 311,00 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine, or more than six times the population of Littleton, Colorado for the sake of reference. The article goes on to say that there were more school shootings-42- last year than in any other year since at least 1999. So far this year, there have been 27 school shootings, which puts us on a pace to surpass that horrible mark. And the median age for these cold blooded killers? 16.

We are the culture of violence President Clinton once feared, spiraling downward from our darkest day and arriving at a point in time where grievances settled with guns has become a normative dynamic of our national fabric. Our kids were just taking their cue from the adults, who have moved the terrorist threat stateside. As of June 6, 2022 there have been more mass shootings than days on the calendar.

For all the souls whose tomorrows never came, their memories are being trampled by elected officials who play politics with mental health care and gun rights. After which they insist that the nightmarish tallies are a bigger mystery than the Ark of the Covenant. Meanwhile, we are decades removed from a grisly turning point and what’s even more frightening is the thought that we might be decades away from changing that course.

There’s a passage from Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels that reads like a modern day prophecy of this darkly complex age we’re living in. If he was around, I think old Jack would have lots to say about a republic that has lost its legs. And not for nothing, but I kinda think he would have learned the fiddle. For the irony.

“Pretty soon there’ll be a new kind of murderer, who will kill without any reason at all, just to prove that it doesn’t matter, and his accomplishment will be worth no more and no less than Beethoven’s last quartets and Boito’s Requiem– churches will fall, Mongolian hordes will piss on the map of the West, idiot kings will burp at bones, nobody’ll care and then the earth itself’ll disintegrate into atomic dust (as it was in the beginning) and the void still the void won’t care, the void’ll just go on with that maddening little smile of its that I see everywhere, I look at a tree, a rock, a house, a street, I see that little smile– That ‘secret God-grin’ but what a God is this who didn’t invent justice?–So they’ll light candles and make speeches and the angels rage. Ah but ‘I don’t know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t matter’ will be the final human prayer.”

Columbine High School took its name from the state flower of Colorado, a hardy perennial that holds its own against the elements. Its common name is derived from the Latin word for dove. The flower has been important in the study of evolution because of its ethereal ability to adapt. This delicate balance of beauty and strength is living proof that what doesn’t kill you will not only make you stronger, it will make you whole.

Adaptation is equal parts dynamism, cooperation and sheer will. It is not dependent on convenience and it has precious little use for indifference. It wins its future by remembering everything that came before. Whereas humanity skips history class in its bottom line quest for kingdoms, this delicate sweep of colors stays honest to its past.

Hell of a world, where flowers learn the lessons we miss and grow the generations we never get to see. It’s been twenty-three years worth of dying and our country remains stuck in that parking lot in Littleton, Colorado. And in all that time, it seems the only thing we’ve mimicked from the flower that named a school is the art of stillness. Because while this genus has proven expert at growing its future, we went in another direction.

We bury ours.




37 thoughts on “American Made

  1. Well done, Marc. As I expect, your post is poignant, thought-provoking, and sobering. Yes, multi-layered indeed. As The Onion stated, we are the only nation with a problem that we can’t solve. Last week I heard a governor proudly proclaim (and I paraphrase), “We (USA) will not become another Europe.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Frank, it’s just sick to think how many of these posts I’ve written over the years. And always the thought is “Where does it end?”. The answer is unkind.

      That governor is the worst example of leadership gone off the rails.


  2. B

    You were right. My god. This is more than a good and sad one. And the numbers don’t lie and are frankly terrifying.

    I’ve been expecting you to share that Jack Kerouac snippet because, shit. He said it, didn’t he? I hate that his passage was so prophetic because it already feels like it’s just a shooting away or two from being exactly that.

    Your comparison to the columbine flower goes right for the jugular. Powerful and heartbreaking.

    Perfectly written, love.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Q

      I didn’t know how to feel about writing this one, because it truly is a fucking sin that I have written so many of these posts and there is still no light at the end of this tunnel. I felt good about the writing and horrible about the content and afraid for the kids.

      I have so many of his quotes. In drafts on WP, email, one in my phone. He knew.

      The story of Columbine High School is like a ghost story that never gets to rest. Every time there is another high casualty count, we go back to that school and that day.

      Thank you


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Another stunner of a treatise, pilgrim. You have to wonder why we can’t move in a direction of peace. What is wrong with a universal background check anyway? Why do people below 21 need to buy a gun? What is sane about allowing someone who has the mental proclivity to commit mass murder to be denied the ways and means to do so? I ask you WTF is wrong with everyone? Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder how many of these posts I have written? It’s too many, I do know that. And I’m always more and more sad, for the latest victims and the ones that came before them. All the way back to Columbine and even further back.

      Our mass shootings have picked up steam, I’m afraid.

      Thank you John

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Can I just say it’s incredibly hard to ‘like’ this post, not because it isn’t written with candor, careful observation and authentically smart language but because yet again we find ourselves talking about more carnage wrought on innocents since Columbine. After Columbine, my state designed a special license plate to honor the victims and comerrate the survivors (you can see it here: It shows the image of the state flower with the words “Respect Life” and is one of the most popular of all the specialty license plates. As I read your post, I heard yet another story that indicated there were at least 10 more mass shootings over the weekend. Seriously?! We shouldn’t have to worry about the Chinese claiming the #1 spot in the world in everything, we’re helping them get there through the steady drip, drip killings every. single. day. of the brightest and best of our children as well as all others. All while the proverbial Nero (aka the US Senate) fiddles while Rome burns. Words cannot begin to adequately describe the shame we should all feel to allow this but mostly because we continue to re-elect those do-nothing Congress people who inexplicably continue to do more of the same…nothing. 🤬 At this point though, I seriously wonder if anything can be done fearing that the genie has been long out of the bottle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is no liking this madness. A madness that stirs us but has changed absolutely nothing. Twenty three years worth of this madness and our elected officials are still allowed to do nothing while the innocents keep getting slaughtered.

      This is how we problem solve in this country. My God.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve addressed this unbearable situation so eloquently and precisely such a frightening path we are on. If we don’t stop this attack on democracy and worse, domestic terror in America ( pointing the finger at MAGA and white supremest) life will become a nightmare we can’t awaken from. It already has for the parents and families of these dead children.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 😥 Columbine seems like last week. Every shooting seems like last week, because every week, ill deranged people with guns keep killing. They are not killing enemies, they are killing our joys, and manufacturing sorrow.
    😱 The horror continues. I am sad and helpless.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is the most shameful national narrative. Why must America be the country of assault weapons and mass murder? How can anyone in good conscious stand up for this situation? You’ve penned another moving diatribe and quoted some visionary sources. Please let me know when you find the visionary with the solution.

    Liked by 1 person

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