I just got back from hearing Joe Hight, who lead the coverage of the Oklahoma City Bombing for The Oklahoman, speak.
I was only 4 years old on April 19, 1995, so I don’t have any memories of where I was when it happened, or how people around me reacted.
I do remember several years later, when my family was vacationing in Cozumel, and we got the news that Timothy McVeigh had received the death penalty. My whole extended family was sitting around the table at the resort, eating dinner, and I think that the TV was on, which is how we found out. I remember that everyone toasted to the verdict. Because I was still so young, I didn’t understand why everyone was so happy. My mom explained to me that while normally people would never celebrate another person dying, it was complicated, and this man had done something so awful that people thought it deserved it.
I’m still on the fence about the death penalty. When considering the idea on the whole, I find it almost easy to say, “Oh, it’s so wrong, you can’t just kill someone. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” But it’s not that simple. Attach a victim to a case, give someone the specifics. It’s easy to feel burning hatred for an individual that has caused so much hurt and pain and anguish to so many. As I said, I’m still undecided when it comes the the merits of the death penalty, but I have to say, had I been old enough then to understand what I do now, I would have definitely lifted my glass and toasted right along with them.
I think the hardest, most dreadful thing about the entire thing is the children. It always is, isn’t it? 19 children gone, in just an instant. And of course there’s that famous picture.
What really gets to me is the fact that those kids would have been my age now, or close to it. If not for the bombing, they could be sitting in their dorm rooms right now, or eagerly anticipating graduating from high school and moving onto the next step of their lives.
I remember going to visit the memorial with my mom, little brother and grandma shortly after it was completed. Remember feeling bad for not having brought something to hang on the fence, which was filled with little mementos people left in honor of the 168 lives lost. I left a little beaded bracelet I was wearing behind.
Last December I was in Oklahoma City with some friends and we decided to visit the memorial before we left. I’d been back once since the initial visit with my family, for a field trip in the 7th grade.
Let me just say, that memorial is incredibly well done. And at night it is especially beautiful.