11 Years Ago, Today
It was a beautiful spring morning here in the Midwest, just like it is today and I was waddling around here about 9 months pregnant with my first, her due date only a couple of weeks away. (as it turned out, she went past the date and the doc insisted on forcibly evicting her in the 1st part of May-hey, she knew a good thing when she saw it, she wasn't in any hurry to leave her cozy digs!)
I was having a cup of decaf and had the local NBC channel on, the Today show was yammering away-just background noise as I went about my morning routines here. Hubby was at work-just another day here.
All that got put on hold a little after 9 am. when the local news guys broke in on the Today show to say that there had been a massive explosion of some sort in Oklahoma City-no details yet, but they were sending reporters to the scene and would keep us updated. Springfield is only a short drive away, relatively speaking, from Oklahoma City. I didn't think much about it, Oklahoma City is a big metropolitan area...it could have been anything- a gas line explosion, some sort of freak accident at a factory, some sort of unfortunate event that would quickly be explained away and we could just get on with our lives. Nothing to see here, citizen...move along.
So I did, got a load of wash going and started washing the breakfast dishes. But from the kitchen I heard the NBC "breaking news" signal. Uh Oh...if the network is mentioning it, it must be bad.
The rest of my morning got put on hold as I was glued to the set, dumbstruck at the carnage that was unfolding before our eyes. They were running stuff live, unedited and the scenes of chaos were upsetting. What they hell was going on??!! What could have done this?! You see, in my mind, probably like a lot of people then, the cause had to be a 'what'-not a 'who'. Yeah, we had been hit by terrorism before-but always abroad and always in connection with our military. The only exception to that was the first WTC bombing, but that had been just a fluke, right? And it had been so long ago.
To instantly jump to a terrorism conclusion had not been ingrained in us yet.
I don't recall just when that morning that the speculation of it being an intentional act begun. I just remember being absolutely heartsick and in tears when it was made known that a daycare center was in that building and probably a lot of little kids and babies may have perished. The maternal hormones, already running high in me, due to my state, overwhelmed me at that point, I began to cry that prolong wail that comes with inconsolable grief, I wrapped my arms around my huge belly and sobbed. How could they? Why would they? What kind of f***in' animal would do this to innocents!?? Video of bloodied little kids being pulled from the destruction just added to my indescribable anguish. I knew I should just shut the thing off, but I couldn't. I had to know.
By day's end they did have some idea at least of what had happened. And within 48 hours afterwards one of the suspects had been caught. We were shocked that the guy looked like US! He was a homey, a typical Midwest local yokel kinda guy. He wasn't some crazed middle eastern, mustachioed loon, spouting anti-American slogans. McVeigh could have been the boy down the road-y'know, the kid who cuts your grass on the weekends. And that is what upset us the most and gave rise to all the conspiracy theories that have floated about since. A weird sort of denial. How could there be a traitor in our midst? There has to be a reasonable explanation for this! Something 'the government' doesn't want you to know...etc. To this day, I'm not too sure what to think. When the link to American Nazis came up I got a chill, as did probably quite a few down here in my neck of the woods- see, the big bust of a major Aryan Nation type group right here in our neck of the woods some 9 years or so earlier was still fresh in our minds in these parts. Could this jackleg had been part of that bunch? Come to find out, they did eventually connect the dots and could tie him to that group. Oh great...as if the slack jawed, booger eatin' moron, inbred hillbilly image wasn't enough to contend with-now they had to bring that up, again! Add anti-Semitic white supremacist to the bad P.R. for our area. I was ashamed for my little county. I felt bad that we had become associated with that whole disaster, if only in a small way.
168 dead. At the time that kind of fatalities were only associated with major accidents, say like a plane crash. Our minds just couldn't wrap around that number as a result of an intentional act on our turf. That kind of thing only happened elsewhere. Europe, the middle east...not here. No way! This can't be.
Sadly, just a mere 6 years later, in NYC we would witness an act that made Oklahoma City look like Amateur Hour.
My thoughts are with all the families and survivors of this heinous act this day. I know they live with the heartache and trauma everyday, it may get a little easier with time but the sorrow will always stay.