When the bomb went off in Oklahoma City, I felt it 36 blocks away. I still remember the mushroom cloud of dust and debris as we watched it float toward the sky.
Today is the sixth anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The convicted bomber, Timothy McVeigh, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on May 16 for the horrific crime that killed 168 people. Unfortunately, his execution will not lessen the grief for those who are left, nor will it fade the memories of those who crawled into the rubble trying to find someone to rescue.
While McVeigh basks in his short-lived fame, the rest of the world desperately searches for answers. We want somebody to explain the madness that overcame this clean-cut young man and turned him into something evil. Like Steve Reed (Thinking Out Loud, April 1) we want him to say he is sorry about the kids. Instead, McVeigh relishes in taking credit for the bombing, delighted in his accomplishment and never remorseful - not even for the children.
Ron Reed (My Turn, April 13) wants to explain it by blaming the U. S. military for turning McVeigh into a terrorist. But, the military is not responsible for what McVeigh did. McVeigh is. McVeigh was no soldier that day. He was a coward who parked a truck bomb and ran while it exploded.
There are those who want to say the FBI's fiascoes at Waco and Ruby Ridge were the catalysts for the Oklahoma City bombing. They try to compare the deaths of the children, as if one justifies the other. They don't. At both Waco and Ruby Ridge, those who died were given countless opportunities to surrender. Instead, they made conscious decisions to fight. They made the decisions that ultimately cost them their lives and the lives of their children. The victims in the Oklahoma City Federal Building didn't get that chance before McVeigh lit the fuse.
Neither were the people who died in Oklahoma City in a war zone. They were people like you and me living ordinary lives. They were children playing in a day care center, employees of a social security office, and tellers working in a credit union.
One was the daughter of the service station owner where I routinely filled my car with gasoline. She was 23 years old and worked as a Spanish interpreter for the Social Security Administration. Her name was Julie Welch.
One was a Marine found several days after the bomb went off encased in rubble still seated at his post a recruiting desk. When he was found by another Marine, work stopped on the entire building for two hours while a team of four former Marines gave him a Marine escort out of the building, an American flag draped over the gurney. His name was Randy Guzman.
One was a nurse who ran into the unstable building to offer aid. She died from falling debris. Her name was Rebecca Anderson.
There were 168.
As the sixth anniversary is observed, along with McVeigh's impending execution, the media blitz intensifies. Those who want to see him die clamor for a seat to witness the execution. Media moguls fight for the right to broadcast his death on the Internet.
I read articles written about Timothy McVeigh, disgusted at each outrageous quote giving him one more minute in the spotlight before he dies. I can't help but wonder if he will be quite so cocky when it is time to meet his Creator.
I will never understand the madness that made McVeigh want to kill innocent people. But, I do know that you should hug your kids and tell your spouse that you love them every day. Make your own peace with God because you don't know when you leave your loved ones in the morning if you will be reunited when the sun sinks at the end of the day.
For those of us who lived there and witnessed the destruction first hand, we will never forget. But, at least for now, maybe we can move on.
Sara Sue Hoklotubbe of Juneau is a freelance writer who lived in Oklahoma City at the time of the bombing.
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