THE Sister City relationship between Bega and Littleton grew even stronger on Saturday morning.
As the rain fell, over 100 people from both communities gathered at Columbine Park in Bega to remember those affected by the tragic Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
Twelve students and one teacher were killed and 24 others injured in the shooting which occurred in the school in Littleton.
A few years ago, locals were given an opportunity to name the park and the decision was made to honour the Columbine school.
Bega residents offered emotional support for their Sister City 12 years ago and that love and affection was there again on Saturday.
While those who attended reflected on the tragedy, the ceremony also had a positive nature, highlighted by the relationship between the communities.
The event was opened with a stirring Welcome to Country delivered by Bega’s Colleen Dixon followed by speeches from four distinguished guests.
Littleton delegates’ leader Jan Brosseau and Consul General of United States of America Niels Marquardt were thankful for the support given by Bega and spoke about the significance of the occasion.
Ms Brosseau said Littleton residents were pleased with the support shown.
“We’re very honoured that you have done this,” she said.
“This is a special commemoration.”
However, Ms Brosseau said it wasn’t the first time that Bega residents had been there when needed.
“On the day it happened, we received phone calls from Bega immediately, probably quicker than from our own families,” she said.
“This (ceremony) shows that it was not just talk, the bonds between both communities are very tight.”
Mr Marquardt said seeing a Columbine Park in Bega meant a lot to him.
“It goes a long way towards the healing process which is so critical,” he said.
“I think it reflects the healing that can and does take place after a tragedy.”
Mr Marquardt said the Bega-Littleton Sister City bond was very strong.
“In my 31 years as a diplomat I’ve never seen such a successful relationship between Australia and America, which is fitting,” he said.
“It has been entirely sustained by the people themselves.
“The generous love shown to each other, you can’t help but feel intoxicated it.”
Speeches were also made by the president of the Bega-Littleton Citizens Exchange Tony McDermott and Bega Valley Shire mayor Tony Allen.
They gave their condolences and talked about the importance of rallying together as a community.
“It means remembering members of the family no longer us that died in tragic circumstances because we are a family,” Mr McDermott said.
“Unfortunately tragedies happen in every area.
“The bond between these communities is there and won’t be broken; part of that bond is unfortunately what happened at Columbine High School.”
Mr Allen said the park reflected Bega’s effort to show support.
“It’s another step in cementing that bond between the two communities,” he said.
“It’s important that we share and respect these tragedies that occur, and when they do, you must show respect as a community.”
A plaque has been made for Columbine Park to remember and honour those killed.
It was planned to be placed on Saturday morning but was delayed to a later date due to the heavy rainfall.
Trees have been planted at the park and were donated by former exchange presidents and Bruce Annabel, son of Curly, the former BDN editor who instigated the Sister City bond in 1961.