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The Journey . . .

   I Don't Want To Remember
But I Can't Forget....

by Maricia Mlynek


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The Oklahoma City bombing happened on Apr. 19, 1995. We visited the Oklahoma City National Monument and Museum--the place where this disaster occurred. As we walked away from the museum I was completely overwhelmed with the weight of all we had just absorbed.

Emotional and confused, I asked Andy, “How do I write about this? There are so many stories, so much pain and violence, so many victims and yet so much strength, peace and hope . . . How do I tell all of it?”

Andy’s answer was simple and complete, “Just tell the truth, Maricia. Tell what your heart says.”

The truth is a harsh and yet hopeful thing. Scripture tells us that the truth will set us free. The truth in what I saw today is that terrorism, violence and hatred shattered a city, tore apart a state and shook a nation. One hundred and sixty-eight people were killed--including 19 children. More than 700 were injured. One act, one day, mere moments, and lives were changed forever.



“Death and despair had washed over me until I felt someone take my hand. The human touch revived me.” These are the words of a victim of the violence. Wow. Doesn’t that scream the power of people? The human touch . . . that is truth. The power of an embrace, the comfort of a hand squeeze, the serenity in a hug--that is the story being told. Death and despair were transformed at the touch of a human hand. Hope and help were offered in the face of a stranger.

As I walked through the museum, I watched more than the displays. I watched the people. Some were tourists, some were students, but a few walked a little slower. A few lingered a little longer. Were they still mourning? Did they lose someone they loved? Were they here to remember?

Andy wears a Killed in Action bracelet. It is inscribed with the name of a fellow soldier and friend who was killed in Iraq. I have asked him, “Why do you want to be reminded of that tragedy? Why do you want to think about that loss every time you look at your wrist and every morning you place that bracelet there?”

His answer to all my questions was, “It’s not that I want to remember the tragedy. It’s that I never want to forget.”

Wives and mothers didn’t return home. Husbands and sons were lost forever. Children and babies were never given the chance to grow, lose that first tooth, have the first day of school, or go off to college. What is the truth in all of this?

You have walked through that valley. You have lost someone. You have felt the despair of death and the destruction of emptiness in your heart. We share more than the bond of human touch. We share the impact of love and loss. Just as you ache for one more moment--one more smile--one more anything--so do all of those still mourning their loss on Apr. 19, 1995.

Tonight, as you lay your head on your pillow, remember the similarities between you and Oklahoma City. Pray for those still aching. Death and despair are powerful forces, but we possess something more powerful--each other. Human touch and love can not be defeated. The truth of this will set you free.

My prayer for you is that you may know that truth. May the truth of God’s love and our love for one another sustain us through all of life’s valleys. We may not want to remember that life can change in mere moments, but it can--and we must not forget.

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