So much has happened in our nation during the past decade, so many threats to our security that have occupied our current attentions — and yet to forget or even downplay the tragedy of Oklahoma City 10 years ago remains inexcusable.
Certainly the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, inflicted a greater loss of life and more spectacular damage, and were carried out not by a handful of isolated madmen but by a worldwide terror network. And yet those who consider 9/11 worthy of a tug upon their souls need to be reminded today that if attacks on America’s financial and political capitals could barely be thought possible, in April 1995 an attack on its heartland was completely unimaginable.
Oklahoma City is not a linchpin in either the nation’s defense or its economy. The nation’s 29th-largest city, it is no coastal megalopolis. Its attackers targeted its federal building only to exact a twisted revenge on the national government.
They wanted to intimidate and cow by taking innocent blood. They accomplished nothing. They were found, tried, convicted. One was executed, the other is serving a life sentence. Oklahoma City rebounded. A national memorial was built on the site of the attack, serving to inspire us further.
The people of Oklahoma City — exemplifying the Midwestern virtues of love of neighbor and community that are perhaps this country’s best side — showed that side to the world in their quiet, firm resolve and of deep and abiding faith in the days and weeks after the attack.
No innocent victims are more innocent than others. Those who died in September 2001 and in April 1995 both had their lives taken from them as the result of equally abominable acts, only because their murderers decided that they would be human sacrifices to serve their diabolical creeds.
And so joining the more than 3,000 who died on 9/11 are the 168 — including several children in the Murrah Federal Building’s day care center — who lost their lives on April 19, 1995, in an explosion that was felt in towns 50 miles away.
We Americans pause this week to honor the faith and resolve of the people of Oklahoma as symbols of the faith and resolve that makes us ourselves uniquely American.