Monday, April 19, 2010

Oklahoma City Bombing – Fifteen Years Later

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It’s hard to believe that fifteen years have passed since this tragic event, which, prior to 9/11, was the worse terrorist attack on American soil. The bombing took the lives of 168 Americans, including 19 children under the age of 6, and injured over 680 others. The sheer force of the blast took off a third of the building and destroyed or injured an estimated 200 surrounding buildings. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were arrested for planning and executing the bomb, for which McVeigh was executed in 2001 and Nichols sentenced to life in prison.

Bill Clinton reflects on the tragedy that occurred during his presidency in a NY Times Op-Ed today. In it he alludes to the bombers’ supposed motivations, which stemmed from a strong hatred of government. When Timothy McVeigh was pulled over by police 90 minutes after the bombing for driving a car without a license plate, he was wearing a shirt with two phrases on it: the first was the state motto of Virginia, “Sic semper tyrannis” (or “To All Tyrants” which was also shouted by John Wilkes Booth after he shot Lincoln) and the second was a quote by Thomas Jefferson, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” McVeigh and Nichols saw the bombing as a form of political protest, fueled by a strong hatred of the American government. They wanted to protest the government’s treatment of the Waco incident, which was why they picked April 19th as the day of the bombing (the anniversary of Waco).  April 19th is also the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and McVeigh believed his actions to be motivated by a warped and highly delusional form of patriotism. The anniversary of the bombing reminds us of the cowardice of these men who so cruelly took the lives of so many innocent people by confusing abject and senseless violence with political dissent.

[Images via nationalgeographic and olbroad]

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