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Is Timothy McVeigh worthy of such a lofty moniker? Many people will read that line and think “what gall” to even suggest that Mr. McVeigh is worthy to even be considered in the same breath as the only Son of God and Christian Saviour Jesus Christ. But how many will stop and look at the larger implications of the OKC bombing, and how many more will remember that Jesus Christ wore that designation in humiliation, disdain, and mockery? He couldn’t get away from it. “Who do you say that I am?”
On April 19th of this year, already over 75,000 pilgrims had visited the OKC bombing memorial. That was just since its completion a few weeks earlier. It’s only been two months since then, but it isn’t hard to imagine that there must have been well over a half a million pilgrims by now. Although there surely must have been a large number of folks from the OKC area visiting, it has been reported that people have traveled from all parts of these great United States to pay homage. Every nook, cranny, and corner of this great nation has surely heard of the tragedy, and all those hearts were wrenched – pro or con McTimmy – by the humbling reality that we all have now been given to understand: we are vulnerable to terrorist attack even from within! And so, to try and understand what happened, and what it all means, and in order to make it real, and maybe, just maybe, to shake the effect of the shock, or even to try and shock oneself back into the reality that it even happened, they go to visit.
They dump their kids in the back seat and they go. They spend the afternoon, eat their happy meals at McDonald’s, and head back home full of anger, relief, consternation, confusion, disbelief, and maybe some sense of absolution for having done their part to understand how they fit into this monumental, benchmark end of the century event. That’s a lot of happy meals. They call the hotels, make travel arrangements, rent cars, ride busses, trains, and planes. They buy gas for their cars. And they go. That’s a lot of gas. They spend days out of their schedule in route, they visit the botanical gardens, they ride taxis, they go to the zoo, and they eat. All different places to eat. Hamburgers, hotdogs, potato chips, coca-cola, steaks, potatoes, salads, and maybe some wine – or a beer or two. That’s a lot of guest checks.
A “national memorial” it is called. And what a memorial it is. It ignores Timmothy McVeigh, I am told. I suppose in deference to the victims who were there that day. They wouldn’t appreciate being reminded of the villain they may now be relieved to know has been given his final ticket to cross the great waters — where his soul will rest at its final abode…or not. I guess that is why. Not just a statue, or sculpture, in a simple passive park. No, not just a simple reminder. This memorial is a large affair, with empty chairs, reflecting pools, waterfalls, and mysterious golden bronze walls with doors and certain times from a clock floating near the top. And more than one time, from more than one clock? Why is that? It truly is a grand accomplishment to behold and to ponder. No one could possibly pass through without wondering. Just what was the meaning of the artist, and the architect, and the city fathers who commissioned the wondrous “national” memorial. And…what was the meaning of…ole what’s his name? What an impression to be made on the visitor.
It must have kept a lot of people employed and busy for a long time, the new national memorial, and cost a lot of money.
And oh the wonder. Those golden bronze walls and doors and times. One news report shows people coming through the doorways, beholding the reflecting pools, dipping their hands into the water, and then turning back to place their dripping fingers on the wall. A sense of connection. To touch it makes it real. I am reminded of the wailing wall in Jerusalem. They must stand there also, and pray, with their dripping hands propped against the wall. I wonder if any have wailed, or dared to cry out. I suppose we’re all a little Jewish. I am also reminded of a famous civil war battle where man’s inhumanity to man once before also became gross and obtuse. The battle was Shiloh, and the scene Bloody Pond. Bloody Pond, where they say the wounded and the dying from both sides crawled, many with their dying breath, to get a fresh clean drink of water. Except, the water was not clean. It had become red with fresh blood from dozens, and hundreds, of soldiers who lay dying and bleeding on her banks. Bronze and water — gold and blood? Who designed the memorial, what exactly did they mean for the visitor to see, and to remember, except of course for ole … what’s his name?
©2001, 2012 – Jim Casey
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