The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

April 10, 2009

Out of pure evil came true goodness

Overwhelming. There really is no other word to describe the experience, except as overwhelming. From the opening moments when the calm of what started out as another routine day to the calamitous event that took place just minutes later and claimed 168 innocent lives, a walk through the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum brings you face-to-face with evil incarnate and blessed goodness all at once. Overwhelming.

I have found if you ask Oklahomans about April 19, 1995, they can tell you exactly what they were doing when they heard about the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. It is one of those events that leave an indelible mark on the memory of those who were so close to the event. Much like past generations can tell you where they were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated; the Oklahoma City bombing has a similar impact.

I realized this when my co-workers in the newsroom could tell me their exact whereabouts at that moment. Sheepishly, I admitted I could not recall my exact whereabouts at the time. Being in Michigan did not bring the same immediate intimacy of the event.

But if I felt a disconnect then, my tour of the memorial quickly changed that.

The saddest day in Oklahoma history started out as simply as any other workday, and this is captured on a recording that was recovered and represents the starting point of the museum’s walking tour. At 9 a.m. that day, a hearing was about to begin at the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. You hear the opening comments, knowing two minutes later a terrible tragedy was about to unfold. Yet, even though you know it’s coming, the sound of the explosion still rips through you and chills you to the bone, for you know at that instant, pure evil has been visited upon this city.

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