The Oklahoma City bombing, which resulted in the complete destruction of a federal building, was the single greatest act of domestic terrorism ever perpetuated in the United States of America. In one fell swoop 168 souls were sent to their maker and more than 680 injured by the tremendous blast created by Timothy McVeigh’s explosives. The bomb, concealed within a truck, exploded with the force of 5,000 pounds of TNT and caused over $652 million in damages. It was parked in the building’s childcare drop-off zone immediately prior to explosion.
On April 19, 1995 at 9:02 a.m. I was in my fifth grade class happily scrawling away on a cursive lesson when the principal’s voice came over the loudspeakers to announce the event. I imagine he said some nice things, but it didn’t truly become real to me until I witnessed the news images. The now iconic picture of the weeping fireman cradling the dead child is what cemented the event in my young mind as one of the most horrible crimes to have ever been exacted.
What occurred was, to the men who committed the terrible crime, an act of revolutionary patriotism. They believed that by their actions the American people could be spurred into action against the government, to restore the rights of governance from what they viewed as a corrupt, power-hungry bureaucracy, back into the hands of the people who it is sworn to protect. McVeigh fancied himself a protector of freedom and went to his grave, the result of the first federal execution in 38 years.
But in reality the terrible crime he and his conspirators committed were crimes that punished the weak and innocent. Many lives were irrevocably changed by the event, many lives lost, and many forever ruined. The true victim of a terrorist action is rarely the government it targets. It is men, women, and children who are in no way connected to the decisions that the government makes, the ones being protested.
The United States has become a much more safe place since the Oklahoma City bombing. According to Wapedia, over 60 terrorist actions were prevented as a result of legislation or law enforcement created in response. Of the 858 “militias” in the country in 1996, there are now fewer than 150. Requirements for identification or limitations on amounts of dangerous chemicals (those which could be ingredients) have been put into place.
The world still feels the after-affects of the Oklahoma City Bombing. It hasn’t been forgotten, and just like the child in fifth grade practicing his hand-writing, a great many of us will never forget where we were when the event occurred.
Source: Wikipedia: Oklahoma City Bombing