"Today is the 14th anniversary of Waco.
"Tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of Columbine.
"Three days ago, a disturbed, evil guy did an evil thing in Virginia."
This is a quote from my youngest brother, sent to our family's web page today.
Fourteen years ago today, I was working as a temp in a job I was enjoying. For some reason, the lobby had a large t.v. set and it was on that afternoon, when the carnage in Waco, Texas was announced. The incongruety of the president standing in the Rose Garden surrounded by blossoming cherry trees swaying in a light, spring breeze was so striking that I can see it in my mind's eye tonight.
Eight years ago tomorrow, I was working at the same job I am today. I headed over to the student center for my lunch break, as was my custom. The crowd around the t.v. set in the commons area was larger than usual. I tried to understand what was happening as I saw people frantically running from a building. When I heard what was going on, I was sickened and horrified. I still am to this day.
This week, as we watched with horror and heard the ghastly stories of the evil perpetrated on yet another school, our hearts and minds are in turmoil. Most will conclude that this young man was deeply troubled. We know, if we believe in sin, that it was evil from the depths of hell. I've heard people say it was so much worse than Columbine. The emotional impact is the same, no matter how many lives are lost.
As my brother mentioned, 12 years ago today the Murrah Building was bombed in Oklahoma City. I knew that he worked in a federal building, but I had no idea which one. I tried frantically to call him, having just received his phone number the day before by coincidence? I think not! But the phone just kept ringing and ringing, not surprisingly. Later I learned that his building was two blocks from the Murrah Building, and that when the bomb hit, he was on the phone with his wife, who was carrying their third child. They were planning their meeting at the doctor's office. She heard the horrendous noise, called his name, kept hearing people on the other end of the line calling his name, looking for him. I can't imagine what that must have been like for her.
R had been thrown across his office, over his desk, into the opposite wall. If he had not been, he may have been killed, because a very heavy wooden window casing landed on his desk, just where he had been. He made his way out of his office, across the street, into a bank building which no longer had any windows. He called his wife, who was waiting on the line, but who fortunately had call waiting. She answered the other line to learn that he was safe.
R was working for a senator at the time, and his life soon became a whirlwind of interviews with the media. Ironically, his son in kindergarten, many miles from downtown, was interviewed by a t.v. station that afternoon. D said to the reporter, "My mom and I found out today what a second is." When the reporter asked him what he meant, he said, "We could've lost my dad in a second!"
A few weeks later, R and his kindergarten son (the one who is now at West Point), came to visit to get a break from the intensity. He had been so immersed in the P.R. part of his position that he was mentally and physically exhausted.
When we went down to visit at Thanksgiving that year, 7 months later, R stood on a street corner and pointed to various buildings, telling us who worked in each one and what was going on with those people at the time of the bombing. He pointed out the damage to one building after another. It was imprinted on his soul. The things people had left on the fence around the rubble was heart-wrenching.
Years later we went back to see the memorial. It is beautiful and serene, but so emotionally impactful. If you ever get a chance, be sure to visit.