On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. Everyone over a certain age probably remembers this iconic photo featuring one of their victims.
According to Wikipedia, “McVeigh stated in his authorized biography that he wanted to minimize non-governmental casualties.”
From the same article: “He parked the Ryder truck in a drop-off zone situated under the building’s day-care center…”
Over the years, I’ve found myself thinking about those dead children who meant nothing to Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. I think about the horror the families of those kids experienced as the news reached them and sunk in — and the roller coaster of emotions those families must have endured in the years to follow and I would assume to this day.
If you listened to the radio in the ’90s, you might recall “Lightning Crashes” by the band Live from their album Throwing Copper. Shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing, someone — a radio DJ perhaps? — edited the song to include clips from news reports about the attack and this version was played on several radio stations in the days and weeks to follow.
The “Oklahoma City Bombing” version of “Lightning Crashes” is still tucked away on YouTube. The quality isn’t perfect, but if you have a moment to listen, I don’t think you need to like the song to be affected. For me, there are many people in the audio I think about from time to time, but there’s one person I wonder about all the time:
At the very end, a woman says, “Whoever did this, I hope you’re happy” with a current of raw emotion in her voice.
When “Lightning Crashes” turns up on the radio (less frequently these days, but it still gets a few spins here and there) or on my music mixes, I think about that woman.
Sometimes, when I see a Ryder rental truck, I hear her voice.
I wonder who she was and where she’s gone and what she’s done with her life.
This information might be available online, if I really wanted to know, but I don’t.
I don’t know who this woman is who haunts me so, and maybe it’s better that way….
One last thought: Be sure to hug your kids tonight, or sooner if you can, and no matter whether you’re having a good day or a bad day, treat your loved ones as if they might not be around tomorrow.
Because they may not be, and you may never know until it’s too late.