26 years ago, I was sitting in Mrs. Wilson’s 5th Grade science class when a classmate across the lab bench from me asked if I heard about the bombing in Oklahoma City.
At the time, I thought she probably didn’t know what she was talking about or, at least, it was a “small bomb”, whatever that means to a 5th grader. In 1995, I had heard about suicide bombers overseas, but they never seemed to be that big.
But, of course, she was correct. The Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, two hours away, was destroyed by a homegrown, fanatic terrorist, who was convinced that the Government was out to destroy American freedom.
Six years later, 9/11 overshadowed Oklahoma City and, I think, as a country, we’ve forgotten about it. Looking right now, none of the major cable news sites or the major national newspapers mention it on their homepage. Of the sites I search, the New York Times did share a video of AG Garland speaking at a service today. But that’s it.
After the storming of the Capitol earlier this year, the idea of homegrown terrorism being one of the top homeland security concerns is fresh in my mind.
These things are linked together. The Capitol events on January 6th were shocking, but Oklahoma City was a whole other level. If we forget what Americans can do when they fall completely into the mindset of “the government is the problem and they’re coming to take away everything”, we’re going to see something very bad.
Our government works best when we all come to the table together and legitimately work together. Yes, we have different opinions and there are different parties, but we must be able to hammer out something that we all can live with.
The Oklahoma City Memorial is beautiful and heartbreaking. There is an Empty Chair for everyone who died in the bombing, positioned roughly to show where they were when they died. 19 of the chairs are small. 19 babies and children died, as there was a day care in the building. The award-winning photograph of a firefighter carrying a dying baby out should be a sober reminder of the depths of evil we can sink to when we don’t see each other as people, but as Others that are trying to attack us.
26 years later, let’s pause and remember those who died this day and do whatever we can do ensure we are not fanning the flames for it to happen again.