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Preserving A Daughter's Spirit

Most parents of students who were killed at Columbine last April 20 have said they expect either to be out of town or to keep a low profile. But Darrell Scott is in Columbine to lead a service at a nearby church that is expected to draw about 2,000 people.

His daughter, Rachel Scott, 17, was the first victim of the Columbine tragedy, shot just outside the school, reports Early Show Co-Anchor Jane Clayson.

As Rachel struggled for safety, the killers reportedly asked Rachel, a faithful Christian, if she still believed in God. When she answered yes, they shot her dead.

Her brother Craig was also shot and seriously wounded.

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These horrendous acts are beyond the worst nightmares of any parent and could understandably result in a lifetime of grief and rage. And yet, for Darrell Scott, this shooting was a sign from God. He now travels the country, teaching the gospel according to Rachel.

Since his daughter's murder, Scott estimates that he has visited more than 100 sities. On one typical day, Darrell and his wife, Sandy (Rachel's stepmother), headed to Stanford, Kentucky, to speak to a church group of several thousand.

Scott's message is not about gun control or metal detectors in schools.

"It's not the weapons that Eric and Dylan had. It's about their hearts," he told the Kentucky gathering.

Scott believes that Rachel was a martyr, whose death was a pre-ordained wake-up call to the world.

"She wrote the words: 'He gave his life for me. I will give my life for Him,'" says Scott. Asked if he considers his daughter a mystic or a prophet, Scott replies, "I believe she had a prophetic element about her she wasn't aware of. On May 21, 1998, less than one year before she died, these were the words she wrote, the only words in her diary that day: 'This will be my last year, Lord, I have gotten what I can. Thank you.'"

Scott learned the depth of his daughter's spirituality shortly after her death, with a stranger's phone call.

"He had a dream about Rachel's eyes, that he had seen a stream of tears flowing from them and he asked if it meant anything to us," recalls Scott. "I told him it didn't mean anything."

That feeling changed several days later when he recovered Rachel's diaries from the police.

"I was absolutely stunned when I turned to the last page of the diary," he says. "There were 13 tears falling from her eyes, and she drew it 30 minutes before she died. Thirteen victims were killed from the guns of those two boys."

For Scott, this was proof positive that the Columbine shootings were what he calls a "spiritual event." He soon quit his management job in the food industry and was on the road.

Clayson asked Scott: "If you had all this to do again, if you had the decision between having Rachel back and spreading this message and being able to change lives as you've done, what would you do?"

Scott's reply: "Well, I would slfishly have her back in a second. That's not even a close call. I think that if you asked her, I can't say for sure what she would say. But I think she would say, 'Dad, leave me alone.'"

On Tuesday, Scott announced a national prayer day for youth on Sept. 2.

The parents of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris still live in the community and whether they are being shunned or welcomed depends on who you talk to.

Clayson reports that a couple of the parents have forgiveness for the Klebolds and the Harrises and what their sons did. But most of the people in Littleton do not, and they do not want to speak of the parents or of these boys. When they talk about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, they speak of "the boys" or "the shooters." They don't call them by name, Clayson adds, and "There is a great deal of…hatred. It's a strong word, but it's there."

But Elizabeth Nimmo, the mother of Rachel Scott, is one of those who feels compassion for the parents of the shooters. A few days ago, they issued an apology for what their sons did.

"I think it's the best they can offer at this point," says Mrs. Nimmo. "I think they're looking for answers, just like everyone else."

She adds that she has "a real heartfelt compassion for them, because I felt like they have been anguished in this, probably even more than the victims' families, because they have the stigma that they bear every day for what their sons did."

Rachel's stepfather, Larry Nimmo, is still wondering why he and other grieving parents keep having to read about the investigation in the newspapers before they are notified by local authorities.

"They don't seem to be friendly towards us," he adds. "They don't seem to want to help us."

The Nimmos do not plan to file a lawsuit in connection with the tragedy.

"We have focused more on the healing process and trying to bring something good out of Columbine," explains Mrs. Nimmo. "We don't want the tragedy to have a final say. We want good to triumph over the evil of that day."

Is there one thing that Rachel's mother can say has gotten her through the year?

"It's been the grace of God, and it's our faith that has helped us, and that's what made Rachel strong. And that's the legacy she left us as well with her writings."

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