Today marks the eighth anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy that took the lives of twelve students, a teacher and two rampaging teen killers in 1999.
With the recent massacre at Virginia Tech which took the lives of 33 individuals, the memory of the heartbreak is all the more clear.
One unlucky individual had the unfortunate coincidence to be part of both the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, which are considered to be the third and worst of the nation’s school massacres, respectively.
Regina Rohde, who had been a 15-year-old sitting in the lunchroom at Columbine High School when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris began their bloody rampage 8 years ago, explained the difficulty of having to go through the experience of living through that trauma. Although she did not hear the gunshots from Monday’s tragic killings, Rohde said she will again have to live through it.
"People are living minute to minute, not being able to cope with anything in the future. Eventually it becomes hour to hour, week to week, where eventually, you can start planning . . . ahead in your life again,” explained Rohde, now a graduate student at Virginia Tech, according to CBS4 News. "It takes a lot of time to pick those pieces back up again and continue on. Normalcy never comes back. It's a different definition of normal."
While there are differences between the two events, experts do agree on one big thing – that the disasters had definite signs before they occurred, especially in violent writings, and that they could have possibly been avoided.
Among many of the problems linking the two incidents, some people have noted the constant influence that media has had with both of the shootings, including other tragedies.
Teresa Tomeo, author of Noise: How our Media Saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families, made the following conclusions: "We saw a connection between the school shootings in Paducah Kentucky and the fantasy scenes in the film ‘Basketball Diaries.’ We saw it with violent video games, specifically the game ‘Doom’ and the gunmen in Columbine. With Cho, we see him angrily posing with a hammer in his hands ready to strike. The image, according to the New York Times, is a carbon copy of a scene right out of ‘Oldboy.’”
The two incidents also share the similarity that the culprits felt that they were standing up for injustices against perceived tormentors – Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold against bullying and “jocks,” and Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung- Hui in opposition to female peers and wealthy “brats.”
"They're both avengers of perceived injustices," said John Nicoletti, a Denver-area police psychologist, according to the Denver Post. "All these people did something wrong in their view, and they had to get even."
The most startling likeness is the mentioning of Harris and Kleboid in Cho’s video testimonial. In it, he describes the two, as well as himself, as “martyrs.”
While some observers continue to point to the possible causes behind Cho’s deadly rampage, many religious leaders have tried to point out the importance of going to God for healing.
“What is wrong with us?” asked Dr. Tony Beam, director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C. “Can’t we at least for a few days just shut up and mourn? Can anything be gained at this point by pointing fingers? Will we find even a small measure of comfort in ascribing blame to someone or some institution? God help us that we have become so insensitive that we would look for answers to this tragedy before we look to God for comfort.”
And with the eighth anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, calls for prayer and reflection will resound even more.
“It is a time to cry out from our very soul to the God of all comfort for a huge measure of His grace in the face of this devastating evil,” Beam wrote in a column in The Christian Post.
According to reports, Columbine will close its doors to students in honor of the anniversary.
Christian Post reporter Eric Young contributed to this report.