Aurora History Museum collects memories

AURORA, Colo. - As investigators, families and the communities respond to the tragedy day by day, some are looking down the road months and years into how future generations will remember this time.

A sea of visitors continue to reflect at the memorial across the street from the Century 16 movie theater. The number of candles, stuffed animals and well wishes have grown exponentially in a few days' time.

The dark days in Colorado history are some many will never forget, like Stacey Hunt.

"A lot of these people were heroes, they laid their bodies on top of people that they loved, and they died for them," Hunt said, tears welling up in her eyes.

With her two children and her mother, Hunt laid roses at each of the twelve crosses for the victims.

"I wanted to feel that I was giving something back to them," Hunt said.

Two blocks away, memories also collect at the site of the vigil that took place over the weekend in the Aurora Municipal Complex.  It is the doorstep of the Aurora History Museum.

Jennifer Kuehner, Executive Director of the Aurora History Museum, said, "We want to be respectful of the families and how they want to grieve but we also want to think about how really to best preserve these stories."

Still too soon for concrete plans. Kuehner says history is being written now and she must preserve it.  Similar to the objects in the museum from times gone, volunteers are working to gather current news coverage and letters sent to government officials about what is unfolding each day.

"So future generation can understand what happened, can learn from what happened," Kuehner said.

Aurora now has something in common with the World Trade Center, Oklahoma Center and Columbine.  

The organizers for Columbine's memorial have been in contact with the Aurora History Museum to help them through the difficult process. For the Columbine Memorial, organizers took years to put together a place for the public to reflect permanently. Looking into the future, Aurora Museum workers know it may take many years to make their own exhibit or memorial.

"Being physically with the objects at the site can help some people get through that," she said.

First, Kuehner says, the museum must determine how best to tell the stories of the event, and preserve the stories of the victims and survivors who the community never wants to forget.

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