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What Aurora and Colorado Will be Known For

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An image from the vigil held at Gateway High School on July 21 (credit: CBS)

An image from the vigil held at Gateway High School on July 21 (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

As our community continues to process the immense tragedy that occurred in Aurora last week, it is an honest and natural tendency to ask ourselves if Colorado will become known for mass shootings and random violence.

After all, we are the community that has endured Columbine, Platte Canyon, the Chuck E. Cheese murders and now the Century 16 shootings. Many of the shootings in Colorado are now used as common vernacular when referring to other incidents of violence.

It would be very easy to assume that Colorado will indeed be known for mass shootings and violence, but I believe that assumption would be very wrong.

Watching interviews with some of the families of the victims and survivors, in addition to comments from officials and others at the prayer vigil on Sunday, I am absolutely certain, with every fiber of my being, that this community will be known for rising above the violence, for coming together and ultimately, as a community that can heal itself.

The overriding message from this weekend has been about healing and a community coming together not to deride an evil madman, but to show a unified front paying tribute to victims and survivors. No one spoke of revenge or the pursuit of justice. In fact, the biggest ovation on Sunday night came for Governor Hickenlooper when he said he would not mention the shooter’s name.

These public vigils and what is said at them are important because they show all of us and the rest of the world that this community is focused on healing and on the people who matter in this tragedy.

Being known as a community that can bounce back from unspeakable horror does not happen by accident. A community must actively decide to walk that difficult walk. As a Colorado native, I am proud to see how the people of this state have reacted to this tragedy.

Almost as soon as the shockwaves of the tragedy swept over the community, media outlets were letting folks know how to do something to help. Bonfils Blood Center reported that they had an immediate response, filling up slots for donations quickly. GivingFirst.org also has provided a way for everyone to help the many victims of the tragedy.

That kind of response is a sign that while evil individuals may occasionally inhabit Colorado, the vast majority of people who live here have their priorities straight and collectively have been given the rare gift to recover from unspeakable horror.

Eventually, more analysis of the event will occur in the hopes of finding something positive to learn that will either prevent or better respond to future tragedies.

As horrific as the Columbine shootings were, the lessons learned there have saved hundreds of lives as first responders have developed better strategies to deal with these kinds of emergencies.
I hope that among the lessons to be learned from the tragic events last week will be how Aurora and the state of Colorado have managed to turn the focus of the tragedy to where it belongs. If that lesson can be learned and shared, hopefully when tragedies strike other cities, they can follow the trail blazed by our fellow citizens to healing and peace.

I truly believe that will be our community’s legacy.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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