LITTLETON, Co – Seven years after a massacre left 12 students and a teacher dead at Columbine High School, construction on a $1.5 million monument to honor the victims is set to begin.
On Friday, former President Clinton was scheduled to attend a groundbreaking ceremony and a fundraiser to collect the last few hundred thousand dollars needed for the project. He also planned a private meeting with victims and their families.
Mike Johnson, who was shot in the arm, leg and head, said he has completely recovered physically from the attack. He can't attend the groundbreaking because he is studying in Utah, but he said it will help in the healing that continues today.
"I think it is important to remember everything that could happen. And keep it at least a bit fresh in people's minds that these things can happen," he said in a telephone interview from Provo, Utah.
Construction of the memorial was delayed first because parents worked to raze the library where most victims were killed by suicidal gunmen Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris and replace it with an atrium. Then almost two years passed before everyone agreed on the memorial.
The economic downtown following the Sept. 11 attacks forced the project to be scaled down from $2.5 million to $1.5 million.
It will be built in a park next to the suburban Denver school and will include a wall of water, an inner Ring of Remembrance and an outer Ring of Healing. There will be one station for each of the victims, and the words of those killed. Messages from their families will be engraved on the outer ring.
Liz Carlston, a Columbine survivor, wasn't sure there should even be a memorial. Then she visited the site of the 1996 killings in Dunblane, Scotland, where a former Boy Scout leader killed 16 kindergartners and their teacher.
"They had a very simple monument, a granite column with a few inspirational quotations and the names of victims. Reflecting on that, I am inspired by the Columbine Memorial and am looking forward to it," said Carlston, who was a junior during the April 20, 1999 rampage.