But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
It seems like the first day of spring with branches budding and birds bathing in the reflecting pond. Folks lounge commemorating the forgotten. They read the names of God’s children on the soot-caked wall that stands in infamy; sons and daughters that will live on in our hearts forever. A tear gently falls as I pause between the bronze plated walls. God’s presence is here – amongst the pines and the pond. A young ranger tries to make sense of it all, and he can’t give answers to the senseless ‘why?’ questions.
It was a beautiful morning, similar to an early summer day, and the employees paraded in holding their children’s hand. There was a State to run, and a daycare downstairs meant Mom was not very far away. But everything changed in a blink of a second. Just as so many times before they thought it was safe, a non-conspicuous van double parked by the entrance.
April 19, 1995, at 9:03 AM will live on in infamy.
Today, a young gentleman lays his hand in the blessed waters of the reflection pond and places his palm against the bronzed plated wall. I reverently observed, not wanting to ask about his connection to this sacred site. But it was clearly a tribute to God who is ever mindful of the innocent, but now lost. There is a special place held in heaven for these blessed children of this casualty.
I am touched to the core. Girls and boys of every color and creed were saved by grace that day. They take their place in the shade of a one-hundred-year-old elm tree – its limbs almost dead from the blast. I stand in the shadow and feel the presence of kids running hither and yon around my legs. The muffled laughter of children now resides with the Lord. He held their hands and guided them away to the promised land. God bless every child and their families involved in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.
EDITOR’S HISTORY NOTES:
This true narrative was written based on a recent visit to the historical site of the Oklahoma City terrorist bombing – Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. This beautiful and serene site is dedicated to its 168 victims who were in the building, a woman in the parking lot across the street, a rescue worker struck in the head by debris, and three others in adjoining buildings.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, ex-army companions, plotted this travesty to show revenge for the US Federal Government’s participation in the burning of Waco. Before his decision to bomb the building, he considered assassinating some government officials involved in the Waco incident but later felt his message of disdain would be better perceived if many people were killed. So, McVeigh considered government buildings in Missouri, Arizona, Texas, and Little Rock, Arkansas.
McVeigh and Nichols purchased or stole the fertilizer and chemicals needed to bomb the building. Four days prior to the attack, he rented a Ryder truck using an alias name and parked a getaway car several blocks from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. His original plan was to destroy the building at 11 AM but that morning Timothy, instead, chose 9 AM. With 4,800 pounds of explosives, and a manila envelope carrying pages from The Turner Diaries, he detonated two bombs at 9:03 AM. It could be heard and felt up to 55 miles away. Ninety minutes later, McVeigh was stopped on an interstate for driving a vehicle without a license plate and having a concealed weapon.
On June 11, 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed by lethal injection. Terry Nichols stood trial twice and now serves a life sentence, without chance of parole.
The National Park Service’s memorial site is at the location of the bombing. Before entering the grounds, a chain link fence displays hundreds of notes, pictures, teddy bears, etc. left in commemoration of the many children who passed away from this senseless act.
Besides the empty chair monuments which represent every fallen victim, a reflecting pond was created to allow time for visitors to reflect on this historical moment. On the opposite side, still stands “the survivor tree,” a one-hundred-year-old American Elm. Two years after the bombing, an arborist saved its life, so today it stands to remind us that life continues after tragedy.