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.
Some chairs are large and some are small.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!