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April 19, 1995

Posted Monday, April 19, 2010, at 7:11 AM

The most enduring and heart-wrenching moment from that day
Fifteen years ago, today, America witnessed the worst domestic terrorist attack, when Timothy McVeigh drove a moving truck full of explosives to the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City and walked away.

I still remember that day clear and I still remember how deeply it affected me. I spent the first 10 years of my life in Oklahoma and still felt very strongly at that time that Oklahoma was my home. I was a junior in high school. School was out that day for teacher inservice day but I had spent the morning at the school changing the heads on the tympani in the band room. Tympani were my domain.

The explosion took place at 9:02 am but I did not hear about it until I got home at about 11 o'clock. I was shocked and angered but mostly afraid. That day we still had no earthly idea who had perpetrated that act. Late in the day reports started trickling in that witnesses had seen two men of Middle Eastern decent running away from the scene. Because of the attacks on the twin towers a few years earlier I believed fully that it was a foreign terrorist attack. Timothy McVeigh was stopped hours after the bombing and arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon. Evidence collected quickly showed that McVeigh was involved in the bombing.

As the evidence continued to come in it became clearer and clearer that this bombing was indeed a domestic attack. It was an attack on the government and in later taped interviews McVeigh made it clear that he did not care who died but the ATF was his primary target over Waco and Ruby Ridge. He was an extremist and did not care who he killed in order to punish the government. His hatred ended with 168 people killed, including 19 children under the age of 6. This is the last I will mention of McVeigh, he was a terrorist and deserves no further recognition.

On April 19, 2000 the Oklahoma City National Memorial was opened on the site of the attack. I have been there and it is quite honestly stunningly beautiful and awe-inspiring. They have placed markers, known as the Field of Empty Chairs on the original footprint of the building to represent the people killed, those representing children are smaller in size. In one corner of the square part of the building has been left intact to remind us that there was a building there. There is an American Elm on site known as the Survivor Tree. The tree survived the blast full intact. On each entry point of the site are the Gates of Time, one has the time 9:01 the minute before the attack marking the innocence that Oklahomans and all Americans felt before and the other with 9:03 marking the minute after the attack representing that our world had changed forever. There is the wall that was setup after the attack that people from all around decorated with mementos and memorials to the dead and survivors still standing. The reflecting pool is the original site of N.W. Fifth St that ran directly in front of the building. If you ever have a chance to go to the memorial due yourself the favor and make time for it. The memorial is overwhelming but at the same times gives the visitor a sense of peace. They have a website where you can get an overview of the memorial along with virtual tours here.

That day changed me deeply and emotionally for the rest of my life. I was afraid that day of what could happen. But watching how the men and women who are charged with protecting our lives operated that day and the days that followed gave me the sense that whatever evils may be perpetrated against us there were men and women who would do their all to keep us safe. After that event I lost my fear and I came to trust that those who were charged with keeping us safe would always do their best to do just that.

Unfortunately as it tends to happen, this day has largely been forgotten and it was not 9/11 that dropped it out of our national conscience. As years pass, even though we all say that we will never forget, we typically do forget or at the very least stop recognizing what the day truly held for us. Pearl Harbor and the day Kennedy was shot are days that we all know, but as the years grow further away from those days we have largely forgotten just how in the forefront those days were for this nation. I have not forgotten April 19th. I honor it every year. When I am teaching, I set aside April 19th aside to remember that day and to teach kids who were still babies at the time just how big an impact this day had on our country.

Those that died that day did not have to die. They did nothing to Timothy McVeigh. They were his victims because of his hatred of the government. Those that know me know that for the most part I am against the death penalty. I would rather see those that commit acts of violence sit in a tiny prison cell and have to live with what they did and the memory of those they affected for the rest of their lives. Timothy McVeigh is not one of those people. He never showed remorse and felt that he was justified to kill them. Keeping him alive would have solved nothing.

It is up to us to keep those who died that day in the forefront of our minds and keep their spirit alive. They shall not be forgotten.

--April 19, 1995

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

You know, I would be lying, if I said that I was shocked that a regular poster took time away from a non-political blog (yes most of my blogs are political, but this particular blog has nothing to do with politics) to make a political dig. How unfortunate.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Apr 19, 2010, at 12:04 PM

To Mike: Excellent article.

To all other posters: Everything doesn't always have to have a political spin. Looking for arguments does nothing more than divide us. Call me naive, but it's always so amazing when Americans truly come together -- such as after the Oklahoma City Bombing or 9/11 -- and we have so much more potential as a nation than when we do nothing more than name-call and fight. Thanks, Mike, for a refreshing human, non-political, heartfelt posting.

-- Posted by TrailMix on Mon, Apr 19, 2010, at 1:33 PM

I've been asked several times which event affected me more OKC Bombing or 9/11. I unequivocally always answer the OKC bombing, I spent the first ten years of my life in Oklahoma, the state has a very special place in my heart and when this happened it literally hurt. We should always remember those that we have lost to attacks in the past but this one in particular will always affect and shape who I am.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Apr 19, 2010, at 1:49 PM

Thank you for the kind words TrailMix.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Apr 19, 2010, at 1:49 PM

I am going to ask this politely and respectively. If you want to talk politics can you please go to one of my other blogs?

This blog was my way to remember those lost 15 years ago to a horrible disgusting act. I would like to keep it that way.

I will not respond to those that want to turn this into a political debate, that is what my other blogs are for.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Apr 19, 2010, at 3:15 PM

This was an excellent column, Mike. I apologize for the one conservative that made a charged political comment. We all need to remember the horror that comes from hatred, on both the left and right. We live in a free country and have the ability to remake our government, hatred and terror are completely unacceptable.

-- Posted by MrsSmith on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 7:25 AM

Nice article Mike,

Although I know you want to remove politics from this particular blog, I feel I must contribute something that may have political overtones. I happened to be driving across the state yesterday and heard some of Rush Limbaugh's show. I thought it was pretty sad and tasteless the way he appeared to be sharing the blame of OKC between McVeigh and the government for its handling of Waco, with most of his emphasis on Reno and the government. If anyone wants to feel ill, I'm sure it's available on a website somewhere for listening.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 11:44 AM

SW, while I have not heard the Rush broadcast I have read portions of the broadcast and you are absolutely correct. It made it honestly sick that on the day we were remembering people killed by a psychopath Rush was trying to take attention away from it and have us remember those killed at Waco. It was abhorrent and he should apologize to the families that lost loved ones and the victims that survived (By the way I do not see an apology coming). I watched the special on MSNBC last night The McVeigh Tapes where they were playing McVeigh in his own words about the bombing and I am sorry to say that what Rush said yesterday was very much on par with what McVeigh said.

I do not think any sane thinking person would look at Waco and not immediately see that the government handled it completely wrong but essentially excusing McVeigh for his act is inexcusable.

edmund, "Liberals are fine with violence against right wing nuts but not when it comes to left wing nuts." Do you have any proof of this?

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 1:56 PM

I do not recall any liberals celebrating Waco edumnd. Want to try again?

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 2:06 PM

So basically you have no proof of your allegation and were just trying to find a way to defend Rush Limbaugh defending Timothy McVeigh. Noted.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 2:40 PM

Wow so you make a generalization that you can't back up and when called on it you change the subject back to generality falsehoods that you also can't back up. Anyways you can continue down that path I am not following.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 3:09 PM

By the way I think the most telling argument for just how cold hearted and out to lunch McVeigh was, was his insistence that the victims of families of the dead just "Get Over It". That and the fact that he swore that he wanted to be caught, which does not fully explain why up until the taped interview he swore he had no involvement (and even pleaded not-guilty) in the bombing.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 3:11 PM

I gotta say edmund that most your rant you just went on made absolutely no sense.

Yacht I tend to agree it's like with Foley from Florida. He was a huge advocate against pedophilia despite being one himself.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 3:21 PM

So if edmund is a closet Liberal, does that make most of you closet Conservatives?

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 3:47 PM

Guillermo, you didn't exactly answer my question but I suppose it will have to do. Would you mind giving a couple of examples of those values you share with the atavists here? Admitted laziness on my part, but I don't like going back through and searching the drek for relevant posts.

-- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Tue, Apr 20, 2010, at 5:43 PM

Wow, Mike, even you got into your little political debate, huh? I guess with friends like GI and Loud, you just felt you had no choice?

Class act, guys. Total class.

-- Posted by MrsSmith on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 7:29 AM

Trying to hide your intelligence behind your fictional robotic comments continues to fail Mr. Loud.

Mrs Smith criticizes a conservative blogger for turning this into a political blog and you are supportive.

When she criticizes you for doing the same, she has become a target for you and your "pre-programmed" defensive liberal robotic mindset.

Is your fictional world encroaching upon your real world? After lowering myself to your level, I have simply to say: What a tool.

-- Posted by Husker23 on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 11:51 AM

Ahoy Burkehead,

"...a hand up?" Wow, that's why all the GOP NO VOTES for programs stressing hand up and canceling hand out programs.

Having started as a republican and keeping fairly close track of legislative actions, sponsors and opponents, AYE and NAY votes for more than a half century -- your claim is pathetic.

-- Posted by HerndonHank on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 4:31 PM

The last 40 posts are disgusting by the way.

I flew into Oklahoma City to see the building before it was imploded. I flew in on Sunday May 21 and stayed until that Wednesday. I went to OU from 1985-1990 and felt a need to see the damage as many OU grads were in and around.

I wish you would remove all the above comments. You have done it before.

Wallis Marsh

-- Posted by wallismarsh on Wed, Apr 21, 2010, at 7:33 PM

Yes MrsSmith I did get pulled into the political debate that I said I would not and for that I apologize.

Yes Wallis, I agree that most of the last 40 messages from both sides have been out of line and off topic. Unfortunately nothing has been said that can be flagged. I can not flag comments that are just simply off topic.

I wrote this blog as a remembrance of those lost on that day but unfortunately it turned into another political fight that even after I said I would not get pulled into I did, and once again for that I apologize.

Having said all that,

The Memorial Site in Oklahoma City is a powerful reminder of what happened there that day and I hope that anyone that can get there and has the opportunity to get there will go.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Apr 22, 2010, at 10:51 AM

edmundburke is just following his leader's lead in claiming that everything that has happened under Michael Steele is based on racism. Interesting, though, that for a group of people that claim racism is dead in America they seem to have no problems with the leader of the GOP claiming racism every time he makes a bad decision and is called out on it and then they parrot his racism line. Racism is dead to the Republican Party, apparently according to the gospel of Steele except when he wants to claim racism against him instead of taking ownership of his own missteps.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Apr 22, 2010, at 11:30 PM


Please name a few of those ultra-conservative workers for integration in Mississippi who got themselves perforated with shotguns and buried in farm pond dams.

Please list all the conservatives who got the bejassiz beat out of them on that bridge trying to cross into Birmingham.

Give us the roster of all the conservatives on that bus that pulled into the Birmingham bus station, where every person aboard ended up hospitalized from the Southern KKK Hospitality provided by all those terrible liberals.

Sometimes Eduardo, you come across as having rather limited intellectual capacity.

However most of the time, you manage to present your self as ignorant and well qualified for your role, thanks to that pre-frontal lobotomy.

-- Posted by HerndonHank on Tue, May 4, 2010, at 6:11 PM

Welcome back Herndon

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, May 4, 2010, at 6:20 PM

i think my hearts broken the first thing i saw was that picture of the little boy and the fireman. i am all for coexistence but not if it has this outcome!

-- Posted by Lopez15 on Mon, May 10, 2010, at 10:43 AM

What do you mean Lopez?

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, May 10, 2010, at 1:23 PM

Sorry guys but I would rather hear from the source, Lopez, on this one.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, May 10, 2010, at 4:56 PM

You are really good at putting words in peoples mouths that's a given but again I'd rather hear from Lopez him (or her)self. Thanks but no thanks.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, May 10, 2010, at 5:07 PM

As I said previously copypasterburke I would prefer for Lopez to respond to the question.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Tue, May 11, 2010, at 7:32 AM

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