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.