Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Columbine Memorial

We stopped by the Columbine Memorial, beside Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado. I wonder if we'll ever learn a lesson from that awful day and others that have happened since.

A short gentle decline as you cross the threshold into the memorial emphasizes the solemnity of the creating a quiet, respectful demeanor. 

The interior of the memorial is an oval stone outer wall (the Wall of Healing) which is softened by a grove of trees in the center and low native plantings around the edges. Steep landforms of the existing hills gently fold back from the top of the outer retaining wall. These hills surround a majority of the memorial, embracing, comforting and protecting the visitor and the community. As the memorial elements are revealed, the visitor notices the inner Ring of Remembrance, and the outer Wall of Healing. 

At the core of the memorial, an intimate grove of trees grows out of an oval of intricate landscape and stone paving. The leaves soften the light surrounding the Ring of Remembrance. This low elegant wall of stone invites you into a circle of stories. The stone is etched with words that are individual narrative remembrances of the deceased victims; remembrances by the victim’s families. While reading the remembrances, the visitor may be comforted by the sound of water coming from the nearby fountain. An intricate ribbon design fills the center space and hugs the Ring of Remembrance. The tails of the ribbon, inscribed with the phrase "Never Forgotten" frame a connection to the outer Wall of Healing becoming a symbolic link between the community and the deceased. 

Forming the remaining structure of the memorial is the outer Wall of Healing. Native Colorado stone forms the space for the memorial out of the embracing hills and is etched with the words of the community. A variety of general text gathered from interviews of students, teachers, the injured and their families, and other community members tell diverse stories of healing, changes in the community, and hopes for the future. The Wall of Healing starts near the entrance to the memorial and climbs towards the back wall where the majority of the general text is found. Low groupings of native shrubs and flowers soften the stone and create an inviting garden environment. Benches are located in welcoming areas to allow the visitor to sit in reflection and contemplation. 

There are overlooks along and on top of Rebel Hill providing panoramic views to the Rocky Mountains, the eastern plains and the Columbine community. A walkway arcs along the top edge of the hills and connects the overlooks while providing an accessible route to the dramatic views on top of Rebel Hill. 

The exit to the memorial moves the visitor back through the entrance corridor and once again directs their view towards the Colorado foothills. 


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