Columbine crosses displayedcomment (0)
January 6, 2000
By Greg Heyman
The display’s symbols couldn’t be ignored. Spread out in the back on an exhibition hall of the Georgia World Congress Center, 12 wooden crosses remembered the lives of students killed last year at Columbine High School. A 13th cross paid tribute to slain teacher Dave Sanders.
Most included something that was a reminder of each of the young lives lost at the school last April – a letter jacket hung from a cross built for Corey Depooter; a baseball cap was perched atop John Tomlin’s cross.
But instead of merely evoking feelings of sadness, Alabama students attending YouthLink 2000 in Atlanta said the crosses also inspired them to have a greater witness in their own schools.
“The first time I saw it, I cried,” said Jessica Bartlett, 17, a member of Government Street Baptist Church, Mobile. “It challenged me; it challenged me to go out into my school and to stand up for Christ.”
For 16-year-old Alan Dugger, the crosses were a reminder of the witness his life can be.
“It really brings the emotional spirit that Christ is alive and even though some of our brothers and sister in Christianity do fall, it gives an example to others of how we should live our lives,” said Dugger, a member of First Baptist, Tanner.
“I feel deeply sorry and it’s a tragic thing, but even in death (the students), they’re bringing people to know Christ every day and it’s just lifting Him up even stronger,” he added.
The crosses, placed at Columbine following the tragedy, featured photos of the victim, along with mementos of their lives. Written comments by friends paid tribute to them.
The balloons on Daniel Rohrbough have long since gone flat and the ribbons are becoming ragged, but messages from his friends like “We miss you so much” still ring clear.
Along with the baseball cap, Tomlin’s cross includes the words “I wish you were still alive. I feel sorry for your parents.”
Cassie Bernall’s cross reads “I love you, Cassie.” Another side includes the inscription, “you’re my hero, God bless.”
Greg Zanis of Aurora, Ill., made the crosses following the shootings and traveled to Littleton, Colo., to place them at the school. Zanis, who builds crosses professionally, said his rationale in taking crosses to Columbine was twofold.
“I wanted to bring the Lord into the worst situation that our nation has ever faced (at a school),” he said.
“I also wanted to let the people in Littleton know the whole country loved them and it didn’t just happen to them – it happened to our entire nation, every school in the country lost that security.”