A Story: 168 Chairs

It is the state of the heart within us that determines the nature of the triggers we will pull outside of us.― Craig D. Lounsbrough

This story begins with chairs.  168 chairs–to be exact.

A Long Shot of the Chairs. Oklahoma City, Shot with a Fuji XT2.

Some chairs are large and some are small.

Large Chairs, Small Chairs. Oklahoma City. Shot with a Fuji XT2

They mark the place where children played and people worked on the morning of April 19, 1995 at 9:00 a.m in the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

9:01 a.m., Oklahoma City. Shot with a Fuji xT2

The car bomb is the poor man’s air force.― Mike Davis

At 9:02 a powerful explosion rocked the Murrah Federal Building, ripping the structure in half.

The Oklahoma City Memorial was erected on the site of the blast. Its mission is simple:  We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever.  May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity. (Source)

The site features two large arches that bracket the reflecting pool, marking the time before and after the blast.  If you look closely, you can see the time above the arch is 9:03–a minute after the blast, which destroyed or damaged over 300 buildings in the surrounding area.

9:03 Oklahoma City. Shot with a Fuji XT2.

Emergency crews from several states rescued survivors and helped the wounded.  One lone tree on the blast site survived and slowly regenerated.  It’s a symbol of hope and resilience on the Oklahoma City Memorial site.

The Survivor Tree. Oklahoma City Memorial. Shot with a Fuji XT2.

The memorial is a powerful place.  It made me sad to realize that in the 23 years since the blast, terrorism has increased–both domestic and international.  Its destructive power has grown.

Message from a rescue crew. Oklahoma City Memorial. Shot with a Fuji XT2.

I understand what they felt in Oklahoma City. I have no sympathy for them.~Timothy McVeigh

I struggle to understand the people who resort to violence, like Timothy McVeigh who loaded a truck with enough fertilizer to destroy or damage over 300 buildings.  How could Timothy McVeigh feel no sympathy for the 168 people who were killed in this blast, including children?  We have a few clues.  Apparently, he reasoned that the federal government was an evil force.  His bombing of the Murrah Building was intentionally planned on the second anniversary of the raid at Waco, Texas.  He chose the Murrah building, which housed regional offices of several federal agencies, including  the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, that launched the initial raid on the Branch Davidian compound.  The siege between federal forces and the Branch Davidians was a defining event in his life.  It radicalized him.   He reasoned that the federal government had killed 80 cult members, including 27 children, so he was justified going to war with a government that was perpetrating evil.  He was stoic until the end, never expressing remorse.  But can his reasons ever justify this savage act of violence?

For several years, I’ve researched how terrorists are born, how they are radicalized, and how they act on their beliefs.  But, I still don’t understand them.  Do you have any insights you’d like to share? How should we, as members of a society, deal with them?  Should we imprison them? Try to reform them?  If so, how?

And finally, I want to end this post on a more upbeat note:  Let’s all bring some hope and light into the world instead of darkness!

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26 replies »

  1. Thank you for sharing, it is such an awful fact that some people in our society resort to such violence, which we s very difficult to understand.

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    • Thanks for joining the conversation! Nice to meet you here. It’s so true Liz. It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years. I feel like the world has “aged” so much since then.

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  2. Thank you for sharing – I am afraid I do not remember this act of terror, but the facts are terrifying…and I find it impossible to understand how vengeance ever can mean killing innocent people. And as you state – terrorism has increased. All of us have a big mission to restore the light in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Ann-Christine. So good to hear from you! I totally agree that we have a mission to restore light in the world. So much depends on keeping our eyes and hearts open and not shutting ourselves off from the world. I’ll stop by your “place” next!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jackie. Thanks so much for your thoughts. I agree. The tree moved me so much too. The park ranger said that it still had pieces of steel and glass embedded in it, but it had grown around them. It’s a great symbol of rebirth, I think. Reminds me of the tree in the 9/11 Memorial too.

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  3. I’m always amazed that at the time of the bombing I did not appreciate both the importance and the devastation of this terrorist act. The memorial site is beautiful and so important for both remembering the victims and as a reminder of the devastation just one person can wreak on the community. Thanks for posting this. I hope to get to see it in person one day.

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  4. Wonderful post, Patti. I haven’t seen pictures of the memorial before. I remember exactly where I was when it happened. A former coworker had just transferred to an agency in the building and he was killed, along with one or two other people I had met at meetings. I always think of him when I hear about Oklahoma City. He had paid for his own move and was returning to Oklahoma to be close to his aging parents. Senseless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How sad and moving, Marie. It astounds me that McVeigh never felt any remorse. That’s true for all the terrorists I’ve read about. I can’t imagine how they can rationalize their behavior/crime.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. These are great photos. I don’t really understand resorting to violence, it’s a step too far in my mind, and I have trouble relating to people who think that way. And in that, I think is part of the problem, if we can’t relate to others, that’s a problem!

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