While students at schools across the country participated in a National School Walkout to protest gun violence in the wake of the deadly February 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, the walkout at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado carried extra emotional weight.
The April 20, 1999, shooting at Columbine was devastating in its scope and marked a new stage in the way the media — and the country — reacted to school shootings. A total of 13 people were killed: 12 students and one teacher. It remains one of the deadliest mass shootings in the country's history.
Though few, if any, students currently at Columbine were alive at the time of the shooting, they've grown up with the specter of it hanging over them, from stories from parents and siblings to the school's memorial to the victims. This tragic part of the school's history gives them a deep connection to the Parkland survivors and other victims of gun violence.
In a sense, the modern epidemic of school shootings — and the way we debate the fallout — started at Columbine. For an entire generation, it will always be the first incident that comes to mind on the topic.
But while the shootings at Columbine and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are separated by nearly two decades, the students at both schools stood united on Wednesday — along with thousands of other students across the land — in the fight against the gun violence that continues to plague the country.