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Patriotic Article
American History
By Van E. Harl

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The Little Big Horn, everyone knows, was where General Custer and his 7th Cavalry were completely wiped out by Native Americans. We have all seen the Errol Flynn movie and witnessed how bravely the soldiers fought and died at Custer's Last Stand. What is ingrained in Americans is when you hear the words Little Big Horn you do not think of a river in Montana, you think of 210 solders led to their death by a leader of questionable sound mind.

My Lai, two words that most Americans do not really want to hear about and know very little of the facts of American involvement. On 16 March 1968 approximately 347-504 South Vietnamese citizens were massacred by US Army troops. Kent State, a university in Ohio where on 4 May 1970 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on protesting college students. Four people were killed and
 

Van E. Harl
Van E. Harl

nine were wounded. It will always be remembered from the photo of a fourteen year old run-away female who is seen kneeling, screaming over the body of a dead college student.
The Texas Tower massacre, this was were a gunman climbed up the tower in the middle of the University of Texas campus and proceeded to shoot anyone he could line up in his rife sights. Virginia Tech: where a mentally ill Korean student went on a shooting spree at that university and killed 32 people in the matter of a few hours.

Columbine is a flower. When Eisenhower was president, his aircraft, Air Force One was called Columbine. In Colorado the name Columbine is and will always be linked to death. However, it is not just Coloradoans, for most North Americans (Canada has its problems with school shooting) when you hear the word Columbine you think of the high school shooting: a shooting that killed twelve students and a teacher in the Denver area. A campus massacre that the Nation and every parent who has a child in a K-12 school system knows about and fears a repeat shooting in their school.

In the nightly TV film footage and still photos we watched two fellow Columbine students making their way through the high school campus summarily executing their classmates. I was in the Denver area this past week augmenting the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office as a Colorado Ranger. The annual Irish Festival was occurring and it was being held in a park next to Columbine high school.

I had been in the high school this past winter when my daughter was attending a school function on that campus. A lot of money and effort was put into those buildings after the shooting to clean up and remove any evidence of the carnage that happened in those halls and classrooms. It is actually a very pleasant looking campus and with the shooting happening in 1999 there are no students and very few remaining faculty who were even there that day.

One of the things I found very interesting about the post massacre campus is the school mascot. Columbine are the Rebels and their mascot is a 1776 Revolutionary War soldier. I found pictures of the mascot prior to the shooting and he always had a flintlock, period correct musket in his hand, but not now. On the wall in the gym is a large mural of a Revolutionary War seen with explosions and smoke in the background. You get the idea that a great battle is going on and the soldier in the mural appears to have undergone combat trauma.

As an old infantry trained soldier myself, what I noticed instantly after entering the gym was the Rebel in the mural did not carry his rifle. In the main hallway there is a life-size manikin in a beautiful glass case, dressed in the blue uniform of a 1776 Rebel soldier. The detail of the uniform and equipment was excellent but instead of a rifle in the soldier's hand he carries a walking stick.

The Rebel mascot of Columbine who is there to lead the fight for the high school has had the fight taken out of him. I can only assume that the sight of a 200 year old single shot rifle can strike fear in the minds of some people who must walk the halls of Columbine high school.

I visited the Columbine Memorial and I do understand the fear. Little Big Horn, Mi Lai, Kent State, Texas Tower, Virginia Tech, and Columbine, words that terrify with memories of past death and destruction, and a reminder that it will happen again.

By Van E. Harl
Copyright 20
10

About Author:
Major Van E. Harl, USAF Ret., was a career police officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Major Harl is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School, the Air Force Squadron Officer School and the Air Command and Staff College. After retiring from the Air Force he was a state police officer in Nevada.

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