A message of hope and healing

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By AJ Vicens

On a blustery Sunday in Clement Park, as people nearby played softball and soccer and flew kites, a small group gathered in the park’s northeast corner to remember what happened at Columbine High School on the same day nine years before.

About 10 people were on hand as Nancy Dzurilla of New Life Church in Colorado Springs read Bible passages and shared thoughts and prayers for the victims of the Columbine shootings, their families and the victims of last year’s Virginia Tech shootings. The first anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy was marked last week.

"Our prayers and support are with you," Dzurilla said of the Virginia Tech families during the brief ceremony. "We share this message of hope and healing with you."

One by one, balloons were released as the names of the Columbine victims were read aloud.

Dzurilla and those with her erected small wooden crosses for each of the victims, and Dzurilla said she would leave them up all day. A fluorescent yellow softball was placed at the base of the cross of Dave Sanders, who was a longtime softball coach and teacher at the school.

Amanda Stair was in the Columbine library on that fateful day and recounted the experience as she stood next to a large white cross Dzurilla brings every year for people to sign.

"They just went around and started shooting people," Stair said, adding that she was hiding next to another girl under a table. "I thought, 'Oh God, this is it ee there's so many things I'm not going to be able to do." Stair said that when she comes to Clement Park and the recently dedicated Columbine Memorial, she feels a weight in her chest, because she knew many of the victims. But she also said that in the days since April 20, 1999, she's learned a valuable lesson.

"You can't worry about the small stuff," Stair said. "You have to let it go and live life." Stair lost her father in 2005 and her brother in 2008. Her brother's funeral was the same day the Columbine Memorial was dedicated.

Bailey Burns, 11, attended the small ceremony with her mom, Shari. She also chooses to interpret the anniversary in a positive way.

"You have to live life like it's your last day," Bailey said, choking back tears.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.