Extra efforts to remember Daniel

Tom Mauser's White House Statement

On May 8, 1999, Tom Mauser was a speaker at a White House event sponsored by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on the eve of Mother's Day. The event was intended to call attention to the problem of gun violence against children. Below is Tom's written statement at that event.

Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to speak today. Let me first say on behalf of myself, my wife Linda, and my daughter Christie, and I think I can say this for the many grieving parents of Columbine High School, that we really appreciate all the cards, prayers and condolences we've received. We have been very touched by all the support that has come from all over the country. It's helped by giving us more strength to deal with this tragedy.

My son Daniel was killed at Columbine High School, along with Cassie Bernal, Steven Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matt Kechter, Dan Rohrbough, Dave Sanders, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, and Kyle Velasquez

For my family, these past days have been like a flash flood. That is, we witnessed a momentary, senseless, horrific flash of hatred and violence. It has been followed by an amazing flood of tears, prayers, calls, cards, visits, and countless expressions of sympathy and love. Now the question is whether the floodwaters can be channeled into something meaningful, or whether they'll be followed by yet another flash flood in another unsuspecting community.

My family knows that Daniel is in a better place, and we have been greatly comforted by our faith in God and the support of so many people. Still, we feel a great emptiness and miss our son's physical presence. It's difficult for me to be here so soon after my son's death, and tough to be apart from my family, but I'm here for the same reason as these other parents: we don't want to see more parents and communities suffer as we've suffered in Columbine, Paducah, Jonesboro, Pearl and Springfield.

I'd like to relate something I encountered on that fateful day of April 20th. After not receiving a call from our son to indicate that he had escaped, I went alone to the Leawood Elementary School, where many of the escaping children were processed. I remember that first walk into the school, seeing teary eyed reunions as a few parents and their kids walked out to safety and freedom. I wanted SO desperately to be one of them.

After spending time in a crowded gymnasium, I went to a special waiting room set up specifically for parents whose children were not yet accounted for. As we sat there, along with counselors, we were told that one more bus with kids who had escaped was on its way. We waited. Fifteen minutes. Thirty. The bus would come from a point just a half mile away, so after 45 minutes, I realized it was probably not coming. Indeed, someone made a terrible mistake. There was no final bus. We were all sitting there in frightful anticipation for a bus that was not coming.

I drove home so that I could be with my wife and neighbors. We went to bed that night knowing that our son was probably dead. It wasn't until 2:30 the next day that we were notified that his body was officially identified.

I have heard from many people since that time. Besides expressing their condolences, they've expressed their own fears about violence in the schools. I think that they too are in a waiting room as I was. My time there was horrible, but it was less than an hour. Every day THEY are waiting for that school bus to arrive, and hoping their children are safe.

We have to do more to ensure that our children are indeed safe from gun violence. Just three weeks before this tragedy Christians celebrated Easter. Christians are taught how Jesus sacrificed His life on our behalf. But the message in those readings is also that we must sacrifice for the love of each other. Therefore, parents must make some sacrifices. They need to be more in tune with their children. There needs to be more talking, more listening, more hugging, more teaching of tolerance, more time together, and less time with televisions and computers.

There must be sacrifices by the entertainment industry. It's not enough that the good guys win in the end. We're being numbed by portrayals of violence. This is not entertainment and it certainly isn't art. There must also be sacrifices by those who promote gun shows and those who promote unlimited access to guns. Americans are saying "Enough is enough."

One thing I especially admired about my son was his drive to address his weaknesses. He was shy and reserved, yet he joined the debate team. He wasn't athletic, yet he joined the cross country team. I think that America must likewise address its weaknesses, including its culture of violence. Consider that the parents of Japan don't have this awful fear for the safety of their children. Parents in Germany don't have this fear. Most Free World countries don't. We may have the freedom to bear arms but we don't have a freedom from fear. We need to look at our culture.

There will be those who try to explain away what happened in Littleton, Pearl, Paducah, Springfield and Jonesboro. But these were not isolated incidents. And keep in mind these were the multiple killings-there are many children who are killed one at a time and aren't subject to the same national publicity.

Let's not forget these slain children. And let's not let their deaths be in vain. Let's stand up and take action, let's make sacrifices, in the name of these slain children. Let's not have more flash floods. Now, it is my pleasure to introduce someone who has demonstrated her care for our children, the First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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