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.
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.
(Originally posted 19 April 2004.)