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Remembering the 13 victims of Columbine on the 25th anniversary

The Columbine Memorial has been a place for visitors from across the country to remember the events of that day and it is in need of upgrades.
Remembering the 13 victims of Columbine on the 25th anniversary
Posted at 1:32 PM, Apr 20, 2024

Saturday, April 20, 2024 marks 25 years since the horrific tragedy unfolded at Columbine High School that left 12 students and one teacher dead. 

A vigil was held Friday to mark the milestone, though it was smaller than gatherings of years past. 

The Columbine Memorial, located in Clements Park in Colorado, has been a place for visitors from across the country to remember the events of that day and reflect since its dedication on September 21, 2007. 

Rick Townsend, the father of victim Lauren Townsend, serves as President of the Columbine Memorial Foundation and described the features of the memorial.

“The Ring of Remembrance has a plaque for each of the victims that died,” said Townsend. 

On display along The Ring of Remembrance are individual remembrances of each victim provided by families or through the words of the students.

“This is kind of the central point of the memorial,” added Townsend. 

The Ring of Remembrance surrounds a big ribbon with the words ‘Never Forgotten’ displayed on the memorial grounds.

Outside of the victim tributes, a Wall of Healing runs along the outer wall where quotes on plaques can be read of first responders, students, teachers, and other community members.

There is a water feature that runs during the warmer months near the memorial’s entrance.

“And to top it all off, there's a walkway that goes all the way around the little hills here to a viewpoint where you can look over the mountains,” said Townsend.

Today, the Columbine Memorial requires upgrades, including a new more reliable lighting system to make it easier to read the inscriptions as well as other much-needed improvements.

Scripps News Denver has created a campaign where anyone can securely donate to help ensure the Columbine Memorial will have a lasting impact for future generations.

Below are the inscriptions on the memorial wall for each victim of the senseless tragedy. 

Cassie René Bernall

“Our Cassie had an engaging laugh, beautiful long blonde hair, clear blue eyes and a big warm smile that she generously shared. Her loves were music, snowboarding with her brother Chris, photography, travel and youth group. Seeking to be an obstetrician, she dreamed of bringing new life into this world.

Cassie truly longed to know what heaven would be like and she strived to know the Lord whom she would meet there. Her heart’s desire was 'just to live for Christ.' Weeks before her death she expressed her anxiousness to see heaven, stating that she could 'hardly wait to get there.'

When asked how we would ever live without her, Cassie simply replied 'Wouldn’t you be happy for me? You know I’d be in a better place!'

Cassie lost her life because of her belief in God. Although her dreams of ushering in new life tragically ended, her stand continues to encourage many to seek new life through Christ. We miss her immensely, but know she’s in that better place. - Phil 3:10-11”

Steven Curnow

"Steven Curnow, at 14, was a quiet, thoughtful, generous and forgiving young man. He never held a grudge and was quick to offer help, encouragement, forgiveness and friendship to family, classmates, and soccer teammates.

Steve loved reading, watching adventure movies and playing soccer. When Steve realized he was not skilled enough to make the high school soccer team his dream of playing professional soccer was gone, but he never lost his love for the game. He continued to play on his recreational soccer team and was also a referee.

Steve wanted to pursue his dream of becoming a naval aviator. He had found a love of flying during his first plane trip, a family vacation to England. The plane hit some pretty rough turbulence, dropping altitude, tossing side-to-side and shuddering. Talking on the plane suddenly stopped with many of the passengers becoming white knuckled and tightening their grips on the arms of the seats. Ten-year-old Steve’s reaction was 'Wow! That was cool; let’s do it again!!'

Steve, you are forever in our hearts. Soar high, and fly straight. We love you!

Dad, Mom, and Nancy"

Corey DePooter

"Corey was a young man who was full of life. He was a person that you would want to spend time with. He loved to talk and could have long conversations on the subjects he was passionate about. With his sense of humor Corey could have a whole room laughing.

Corey was an outdoorsman at heart. Every free hour he had he spent fishing. He loved the mountains, camping with his family, hunting, golfing, and fly fishing at Yellowstone.

Corey had just turned seventeen and was excited about his future. He was working at a golf course to save up for his first car. His goal was to become an officer in the Marine Corps. Corey looked forward to becoming a husband and a father and sharing his faith with his children.

Corey cherished his family, his friends, and his life."

Kelley Ann Fleming

Kelly's memorial inscription is taken from a poem she wrote in 1998.

"A writer and a poet, a gentle soul who walked among us.


I step outside, what did I hear?

I heard the whispers,

And the cries of the people’s fear.

The loneliness of wisdom,

Can that be?

The sad, sad, sorrow that I see,

That is past in the trees.

Is it true, can it be real?

Can I let them know how I really feel?

The things I have seen,

The things that I have felt.

The feelings of sorrow

That I hope will soon melt:

Wherever I looked,

Wherever I turned.

I see shadows all through the night.

I put my head down and said a little prayer,

To tell the Lord the sad, sad, sorrow,

And the lonely cries that I have heard.

After a minute of silence, of wisdom

I looked up slowly.

I saw a thing that I have never seen.

I saw a light and asked myself can that be?

Was it real or was it a dream?

I didn’t know but hopefully

It will come to me.

It was bright and I was scared.

I didn’t know what or if I should see

I looked and then it came to me.

It was a dream.

When I was turning to walk away

I heard a voice.

Written by Kelly in 1998. Her first draft; final draft published in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III"

Matthew Kechter

"Matthew, a gift from God

As the sun rises, the eagle soars, and the wind whispers, we will remember you. Memories are moments of time strung together, but in these moments of reflection we will see the kindness in your eyes, hear your sweet chuckles of laughter, and feel the love for others in your heart.

We will always remember your fondness for the outdoors, your passion for sports and your dedication to academic success. Your broad and proud grin after you caught your first trout will never be forgotten. You loved to compete and strive for the best in all sports that you played. You loved to win, yet your sense of fairness and integrity always prevailed.

Academically you shined so very bright. Never forgotten will be the moment when you were listening to music, watching a football game and working on your Algebra. 

When questioned about the distractions, using your Forrest Gump voice and replied, 'I have a 4.0, and that is all I am going to say about that.' Known as the go-to-guy for homework help you always found time to lend a hand. 

More importantly, you brought joy to those around you with a kind work or a gentle smile Your devotion to family and friends will serve as our inspiration to follow as we journey through life. You possessed such profound empathy for someone so young. You were so wise, loving and thoughtful.

'I am with you always.' Matthew 28:20'"

Daniel Mauser

"It is not easy to sum up the life of a son and brother. To his parents he was a first born gift with spiritual dimensions that caused us to seek a deeper life. To his sister Christine, he was a fun companion but also one who was willing to share his wisdom and knowledge. 

To his sister Madeline he will be the brother who was never known, but whose presence will always be felt. To others he will be an inspiration for how he tackled his own weaknesses and often overcame them in surprising ways.

We remember Daniel as a boy with a gentle spirit and a shy grin. Often charming and sometimes intense,; he was just coming into his own. He still saw the world through largely innocent eyes. 

He was an inquisitive and occasionally maddening adolescent who would challenge you to examine your assumptions about most everything.

In the most profound sense, however, Daniel was one who, despite difficulties, knew the ineffable sweetness of life and it was part of him. It was our great blessing to have had him as a member of our family."

Daniel Lee Rohrbough

"March 2, 1984 – April 20, 1999

What will the world miss?

A precious gift from God with an engaging smile and beautiful blue eyes that would light up the room, sensitive and caring, always quick with a comforting hug. A funny kid with an infectious laugh and a quick come back, so full of questions and wanting to know how things work. Family was important to you and always included in your life. Just beginning your journey with so much to learn, yet you taught us so much. 

We miss you.


'Dad, I have a question.'


My son in a Nation that legalized the killing of innocent children in the womb; in a County where authorities would lie and cover up what they knew and what they did, in a Godless school system your life was taken…Dan, I’m sorry.

“I love you dad, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

7:00 p.m., April 19, 1999

'There is no peace,' says the Lord, 'for the wicked.' Isaiah 48:22"

Rachel Joy Scott

"Her middle name described her; she was a Joy! Her beauty reflected her kindness and compassion. A month before her death she wrote: 'I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.'

Rachel had a sense of destiny and purpose. She also had a premonition her life would be short. She wrote: 'Just passing by, just coming though, not staying long. I always knew this home I have will never last.' The day she died she told a teacher: 'I’m going to have an impact on the world.'

In her diary she wrote: 'I won’t be labeled as average.'

Her faith in God was expressed in a prayer she wrote:

'I want to serve you; I want to be used by you to help others.'

Her final words were testimony to her life.

When asked if she believed in God, she replied, 'You know I do!'

William “Dave” Sanders

"Born in Illinois, as a child he liked Davy Crockett, little league baseball and loved the sound of a bouncing basketball. Dave’s young life was mentored by his high school basketball coach. 

He played basketball and ran cross-country in college then began his career as a business teacher and coach. Dave encouraged students, family members and friends to become better people through kindness and encouragement. 

He inspired many people to achieve their dreams and his spirit lives on in everyone who loved him or knew him. Know that he loves you all and is with you always.

He will always be only one thought away when we need strength and comfort. We have a lifetime filled with memories of a man we are so proud to have known. So, remember Dave for how he lived; not how he died.

We are grateful for his final words: 'Tell my girls I love them,' we love you too."

Isaiah Eamon Shoels

"The love of God was first in Isaiah’s life. The love for his parents, Vonda and Michael, was the highlight of his life. His close relationship with his Grandmother Bessie showed in his respect for others. 

He loved sports, playing and joking with his family, and was taught to love others no matter how they treated him. 

Isaiah died in a room filled with hate and darkness. 

He now lives in a beautiful heavenly room filled with light and beauty. He would want you to look up and see the light, to put away the guns, hate, prejudice and pride, and see the great light that is love. 

He is one of the beautiful flowers God has picked for his Heavenly Garden, to shine and to be an everlasting light.

Isaiah, we will always miss you. We will always love you. With love from your Family and friends.

Stop doing wrong, learn to do right. —Isaiah 1:15-17

Maintain justice and do what is right. —Isaiah 56:1-2

Those who walk uprightly enter into peace. —Isaiah 57:1-2"

John Tomlin

"Born September 1, John Tomlin was a young man with a broad smile and bright eyes. As a kid he loved cars, baseball, family and God. 

As a teen he added Chevy trucks and the Green Bay Packers to that list and his love for Jesus developed in him a strong set of Christian morals.

John had a gentle disposition that parents and girlfriends dream of; the kind that didn’t need a heavy hand of discipline and that made him an old-fashioned gentleman on dates. 

But his sunny disposition could not keep him from entering what many teens enter; a dark tunnel of loneliness where God seemed far away.

John didn’t stay long in that tunnel. 

Seven months before his death he reconnected with God and rediscovered the joy of his faith. That faith sustained John with courage and strength to face evil during the last moments of his life in the Columbine High School library. 

In heaven now, John fully understands the truth of the words written long ago: 'You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.' 1 John 4:4"

Lauren Townsend

"Excerpts from Lauren’s Diary

A woman in the middle of a field of flowers kissing Jesus’ wounds. I didn’t think I could draw such a beautiful picture I did tonight. It took me only two hours. I think something was guiding me other than just my hand. That is my dream. 

When I die, I want to wake up in a field of flowers and see Jesus sitting there smiling, happy to see me, holding my hand. Then I want to kiss his wounds. 

Maybe it sounds corny, but I can’t even describe how happy I would be if I could do that. Then I would hug him, he’d kiss me on the forehead, and we would just sit there hugging in the sun with the wind blowing in our hair. 

The wind is God because God is everywhere. Just that moment is worth living many lives for.

I feel so peaceful, calm, and joyful; like I am on the verge of enlightenment. There is so much more going on here than we realize. I do think humanity is losing touch with itself and their relationship with their surroundings. 

Unfortunately it usually takes a huge trauma to get people to realize what is important and I feel that is what is going to happen to wake up everyone to get in touch with their spiritual sides. I am not afraid of death, for it is only a transition."

For, in the end all there is, is love.

Kyle Albert Velasquez

"A young man, who as a child struggled with developmental delays and learning disabilities, he knew his limitations, yet wanted to be like every other kid. He was just beginning to really like who he was. 

Kyle taught those who loved him so much about unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, perseverance, and acceptance. He was a true friend to those who chose to take the time to know him. 

He loved his brother Daniel, and family cats, ice cream, pizza, and riding his bike. He spent his time at home with his family, watching sports with dad and going to the library with mom. 

Kyle had been a student at Columbine only three months and was just beginning to spread his wings. The world around him was beginning to open up for a young boy who had struggled through school and life. But, through all his delays and difficulties he always smiled, forgave and saw the GOOD in those around him.

Kyle was and is very much loved. He will always be missed and never forgotten."

This story was originally published by Jeff Anastasio at Scripps News Denver.

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