The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

19 April 2004

Murrah

Say it again: Murrah.

It's a mere slip of a word, a syllable and a half, barely enough for a murmur.

And on an April morning in 1995, its innocuousness was forever laced with toxins: number-two diesel fuel, ammonium nitrate, shrapnel, the very smell of death.

It is still not entirely certain whether the Oklahoma City bombing was a purely domestic operation, or if there might have been a foreign component to the conspiracy. But either way, the results were the same, and a hundred sixty-eight empty chairs stand downtown to give mute testimony to those results.

Spring in Oklahoma often brings us disasters. On this very date in 1970, the Chikaskia River, after three days of rain, rose three to six feet from its banks and washed away much of the town of Jefferson. In May 1999, tornadoes pushing the limits of the Fujita scale rolled through the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The response is always the same: we take care of business, we mourn, we clean up, and we go on, because — well, because that's what we do.

I don't know if this is the stuff of which movies are made, but inevitably someone will try, and chances are there will be a title like Terror in the Heartland attached to it, a title that might attract attention on the bottom shelf at Blockbuster but which ultimately says nothing at all. Besides, if you were here on the 19th of April, 1995, as I was, as Jan was, you already have a name for it.

Murrah.

Now playing in the hearts and minds of a community that will always remember, and will always go on.

Because that's what we do.

(Update, 1:30 pm: Lynn S. and Michele have thoughts on the events of this day.)

Posted at 7:40 AM to City Scene


TrackBack: 1:41 PM, 19 April 2004
» April 19th from A Small Victory
Robyn: I was a senior about to graduate from the University of Oklahoma on April 19, 1995. I had been up all night studying for an exam, and woke up around 1:30 in the afternoon that day. I later......[read more]

I love living in Oklahoma for that very reason -- that "pick up the pieces and go on" thing. I suppose most places, really, can do that, but I've experienced it here.

I was, of course, in Stillwater 9 years ago. Standing outside my office, talking to a coworker, and we heard the explosion. Some 60+ miles away. Thought it was a grain elevator, maybe. Spent the rest of the day (tech support) answering the phone with "Yes, we're in Oklahoma. No, we're far from there."

Posted by: Jennifer at 12:23 PM on 19 April 2004

Out here, you develop resilience, or you're gone; there's not much choice in the matter.

I was about five miles from the blast when it happened, and it rattled our windows something fierce. "Grain elevator" seemed like a reasonable explanation at the time; once the details were known, well, we definitely would have preferred the grain elevator.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:08 PM on 19 April 2004

Having been an honorary Oakie for ten years, I was there, and I bore witness to the Murrah bombing. (Fox news ticker is saying some very interesting things today about it, too.)

I was never so proud to be a part of a community in my life.

(P.S. "Emma" is a nom-de-plume. You "know" me.) Heh.

Posted by: Emma at 10:18 PM on 19 April 2004