April 20, a date reserved overwhelmingly for marijuana advocacy, also marks a day of somber remembrance for many. On 4/20/1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold subjected Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, to a heinous crime of senseless killing.
In the aftermath of a three-hour ordeal capped by a SWAT rescue, the suburban Denver city counted its losses at 12 students, a teacher, and both Eric and Dylan who killed themselves. In one particularly poignant description, Sam Granillo, a 17-year-old Columbine High School junior at the time, recounts:
I was having lunch in the cafeteria when the shootings began. I spent nearly 3 hours with 17 people trapped in a kitchen office without a lock on the door. The sounds of pipe bombs, shotguns and violent silences filled the air along with the smell of gun resin and smoke. Eventually, we were rescued by SWAT team members and escaped through a broken window in an adjacent room. We ran past pools of blood and dead bodies as we were moved to safety by police officers and firemen. The next several eternal hours were spent finding and reuniting with friends and putting the pieces together. What we discovered, as the night approached, was that some of our closest friends never made it out. Those left behind would lay lifeless on school grounds for the next few days while the authorities investigated the massacre.
Now, thirteen years later, Granillo has begun work on Columbine: Wounded Minds, a documentary he says will give voice to survivors of the event and help find counseling for individuals still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders.
As a graduate of the University of Colorado film school, Granillo seems well-equipped for the task, telling Westword for now he's just focused on raising a small amount of money to create a "sizzle reel" and attract more donors.
Eventually, reports ABC News, Granillo hopes to raise around $250,000, much of which will be used for animating sequences. “There’s no reason to show the violent images,” he told ABC. ”The biggest thing about this is moving forward. And everything in the past needs to be animated because it gives that feeling that it’s real, but you can’t touch it anymore.”
The need for help is real. A heavy emotional tole inflicted not only by the event itself, but as Granillo says on the project website:
by a blur of back-to-back funerals, drained emotions and media frenzies, we struggled for normalcy. Many came to help, some came to take advantage and others began to rebuild. We were told along the way that counseling would be available to us for whenever we needed, for as long as we needed, free of charge. Perhaps our teenager minds were not yet ready to know what we wanted to get out of therapy or how to deal with the very adult emotions that plagued us. For me, the idea of counseling and therapy was new and uncomfortable. I wasn't ready. Now that I am older and have a more clear goal of what I want to get out of counseling, the funds have disappeared and I am left alone.
“It may be a cliché, but I feel like that’s true. I love my friends. I love my family,” said Granillo in an interview with the Columbine Courier. “You never know when your last day is going to be. You can’t live like that always … but it never hurts to think about it from time to time.”
A memorial to the victims is open to the public today in Clement Park. The Denver Post reports Columbine High School will be closed to students today.
Donations to the Columbine: Wounded Minds project can be made online here, via a FundRazr page.
PHOTOS of Columbine High School memorials: