Construction begins on the permanent Columbine memorial in 2006. At the ground-breaking ceremony, Bill Clinton delivers an address paying homage to the victims and their “magnificent” families. Patrick Ireland marries his college sweetheart. Mr. D and Patrick’s doctors from Craig Hospital are in attendance. Patrick stands at the altar with no support from braces, and he and his wife dance together beautifully at their wedding. Dr. Fuselier continues to teach hostage negotiators around the world, and still hopes to one day interview Eric and Dylan’s parents. Brad and Misty Bernall moved out of Colorado. She Said Yes has sold over a million copies. Pastors in Columbine report “no long-term impact” of the shooting on their church attendance, despite the initial fervor right after the attacks. Both the Klebolds and the Harrises have remained in Colorado. Each of the thirteen families was given a space to include an inscription in the memorial. Brian Rohrbough’s quotation was “an angry rant blaming Columbine on a godless school system in a nation that legalized abortion,” and ended with a Biblical quote that declared “There is no peace for the wicked.” The planning committee did not stop his submission from being included.
By giving a “where-are-they-now” account of the survivors, investigators, staff, and family members of both the perpetrators and the victims, Cullen provides his readers with a wide range of responses to the continued anguish and trauma left over from the attack. Many, like Patrick Ireland and the Bernalls, are able to find hope, solace, and renewal—while others, such as Brian Rohrbough and, to some degree, Fuselier, remain haunted by the attacks. The massacre has had a lasting impact on many aspects of the Jefferson County community—and a lesser long-term impact on others.
Patrick Ireland speaks at the dedication of the Columbine memorial, and thirteen doves are released into the air—followed by two hundred more, “an arbitrary number to signify everyone else.” Cullen, who was present at the dedication, describes the birds “seem[ing] to fill the entire sky, then coalescing into a single flock against the clear blue sky.”
Cullen chooses to end his narrative on a note of hope, using the image of a flock of birds to denote the solidarity—and the resilience and ability to move on—that the Columbine community has come to possess.