"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Alfred Murrah Bombing's 25th Remembrance

Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, April 19, 1995
25 years ago this morning, April 19, 1995, I retrieved my luggage from the airport carousel at 8:30 am, having flown on a red-eye flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to Will Rogers International Airport in Oklahoma City.

The night before I had spoken to a group of pastors and leaders in Prescott, Arizona, in preparation for a Franklin Graham Festival that was coming to Prescott later that year.

 For the previous two years, I'd flown all over the country on behalf of the Billy Graham Organization, laying the groundwork for Franklin Graham Festivals in cities around the United States.

After retrieving my luggage, I went to my car in the airport garage and proceeded to driving home to Enid. I was driving on Highway 74, just west of downtown OKC, when I felt my car shake. I thought a gas explosion had occurred in downtown OKC. A few minutes later, Rachelle called me on my car phone (a fairly new invention in 1995) and informed me that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City had been destroyed by an explosion.

As a chaplain for various police departments over the years, I worked for several days after April 19 at the morgue for victims, temporarily set up at OKC's First United Methodist Church. I would make trips from First Methodist to OKC First Christian Church where the victims' families had gathered for news about their loved ones, making death notifications. At first, we thought there would be survivors. As the hours went by, we realized no medical triages were needed. Only a morgue.

I can't begin to describe the stories I heard those few days, or the people I met, or the inspiration I received from the "Oklahoma Strong" atmosphere that was all around. Though I can't describe it, I will never forget it.

The Oklahoma City Federal Courthouse (and flag)
On the day after the bombing, Governor Keating ordered all flags to be flown at half-mast. Most people don't realize that the Oklahoma City Federal Courthouse is located just across the street, south of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The Federal Courthouse was badly damaged, and so two Federal ATF agents and I made our way into the Courthouse, and climbed to the roof, avoiding debris and kicking open doors when needed, all with the purpose of lowing the flag.

When we finished our mission, we stood on the railing and looked north toward the Murrah Building. The sight was gruesome. As we pondered what had happened, the two ATF agents began telling me about the friends and fellow agents they lost in the bombing. I remember the tears in my eyes as they pointed to the floors where their friends had been killed.

It's hard to believe it's 25 years since Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Building. In 1995, I did not know the Enid attorney who would eventually be appointed by the Federal government to defend Timothy McVeigh.

Since that time, Steven Jones and I have become friends, and he has told me some incredible stories of his time defending McVeigh.  I have the utmost esteem for Steven Jones and have learned to love liberty even more through the principles he cherishes.

In an age when principles are often neglected, Steven Jones continues to believe in some  bedrock principles upon which our country was founded, including "the right to a fair trial," and "innocent until proven guilty." Timothy McVeigh was guilty of a heinous crime, but what makes America great is the protection of our liberties for all citizens, including the Timothy McVeighs of this world.

The tragedy of April 19, 1995, has made  Oklahoma a strong state.

I'm a better man because I've seen firsthand how God can take the vilest and most despicable act of man and turn it for good for an entire community.

God is powerful enough to take our darkest moments and make something great from them (see my friend Berry Tramel's story in today's Oklahoman on the revival of Oklahoma City since 1995).

There's no such thing as a happy anniversary for the Murrah Building bombing.

 But there is such a thing as humble respect and gratitude for what Oklahomans have become because of what happened 25 years ago today.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

For remembrance of the victims and those who tried to save them

https://media3.s-nbcnews.com/j/newscms/2017_13/1203689/oklahoma-city-firefighter-chris-fields-today-170327_6c5f309ea6eedbf56a517b924660ce91.fit-560w.jpg

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Judy told me today, it was 25 years ago the Federal Building in Oklahoma City had been destroyed. We visited its Museum several years ago.

Didn’t know you were some of the first responders. I believe with your ‘heart’ it was good that mourners had you there.

If McVeigh hadn’t parked his car so close and gotten his license plate blown off by the explosion, he probably would never have been caught. A policeman stopped him miles away because of the missing plate and found incriminating evidence that linked him to the bombing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waco_siege

“Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. This resulted in the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians, including 25 children, two pregnant women and David Koresh.

The events thirteen miles from Waco, and the law enforcement siege at Ruby Ridge less than twelve months earlier, have been cited by commentators as catalysts for the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.”

Rex Ray said...

Anonymous,

I took a picture of your link showing a fireman holding the body of a small child. It made me want to cry. I don’t know how Wade could take it.

One Salient Oversight said...

Taxes are a joke. Regardless of what a political candidate "promises," they will increase. More taxes are always the answer to government mismanagement. They mess up. We suffer. Taxes are reaching cataclysmic levels, with no slowdown in sight. Is a Civil War Imminent? Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn't come to that. But it might.

It is a lie if we tell ourselves that the police can protect us everywhere at all times. Firearms restrictions are bad enough, but now a woman can't even carry Mace in her purse?

The government is afraid of the guns people have because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. If you get this far, understand that I'm quoting the words of Timothy McVeigh. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful, and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.

Those who betray or subvert the Constitution are guilty of sedition and/or treason, are domestic enemies and should and will be punished accordingly.

It also stands to reason that anyone who sympathizes with the enemy or gives aid or comfort to said enemy is likewise guilty. I have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic and I will. And I will because not only did I swear to, but I believe in what it stands for in every bit of my heart, soul and being.

I know in my heart that I am right in my struggle, Steve. I have come to peace with myself, my God and my cause. Blood will flow in the streets, Steve. Good vs. Evil. Free Men vs. Socialist Wannabe Slaves.

Rex Ray said...

One Salient Oversight,

Why don’t you try to find a better country and go there?

One Salient Oversight said...

Did you read absolutely everything I wrote?

Rex Ray said...

One Salient Oversight,

I’m sorry you got me to read your comment again. It makes me feel like the guy that said, “When you’re running down my country, Hoss, you’re walking on the backside of me!”

Anonymous said...

ONE S O

are you advocating for a 'second amendment solution' to a Biden victory in Nov???

sounds like it

?

One Salient Oversight said...

Looks like neither of you looked carefully at what I wrote:

"If you get this far, understand that I'm quoting the words of Timothy McVeigh."

Anonymous said...

thanks, some quotes would have cleared us of being unobservant

people here want to understand each other if we can

Rex Ray said...

One Salient Oversight,

You wrote, “If you get this far, understand that I'm quoting the words of Timothy McVeigh."

McVeigh did not write: “I know in my heart that I am right in my struggle, Steve. I have come to peace with myself, my God and my cause. Blood will flow in the streets, Steve. Good vs. Evil. Free Men vs. Socialist Wannabe Slaves.”

You wrote that! So don’t try to wiggle out of it by blaming McVeigh.

One Salient Oversight said...

https://oklahoman.com/article/1074993/okc-bombing-trial-transcript-12081997-afternoon-2103-cdtcst

Q. Can you look at the top of page 17. Did he say to you, "I
know in my heart that I am right in my struggle, Steve. I have
come to peace with myself, my God, and my cause. And I feel
that I do not have to justify myself to anyone, to defend my
position. Never have I felt this way before when I found the
real truth. I know it inside. The struggle now is not one of
insecurity -- am I insane -- but one of how people -- how can
people not see what I do as the obvious truth?"
Did he say that to you?

A. (Steve Hodge) Yes.

One Salient Oversight said...

Q. Did he say, "Blood will flow in the streets, Steve. Good
vs. evil. Free men vs. socialist wannabe slaves. Pray it is
not your blood, my friend"?
A. Yes.

Rex Ray said...

One Salient Oversight,

Have you checked your link that gives the Oklahoma-bombing-trial-transcript lately?

https://oklahoman.com/article/1074993/okc-bombing-trial-transcript-12081997-afternoon-2103-cdtcst

It now has nothing but hundreds of pages with the words ‘blanked out’.

One Salient Oversight said...

Huh. Still works for me, especially in the places which I quote from:

Screenshot: https://i.imgur.com/rybajPQ.png

Rex Ray said...

One Salient Oversight,

The new link you provided (https://i.imgur.com/rybajPQ.png) works good, and proves your point about blood in the streets, but the first link (https://oklahoman.com/article/1074993/okc-bombing-trial-transcript-12081997-afternoon-2103-cdtcst) you gave has only blank pages.