The War Diaries

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Archive for the ‘Oklahoma City National Memorial’ tag

Twenty Years

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The Oklahoma City National Memorial, photographed on a glorious spring day in May 2010. ©Derek Henry Flood

The Oklahoma City National Memorial, photographed on a glorious spring day in May 2010. ©Derek Henry Flood

New York- It’s such an obvious thing to say but it’s really hard to believe it’s been two solid decades since the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. I viscerally remember sitting in the dormitory at San Diego State University when a friend had the news on. He was from Fontana but had Oklahoma roots and was deeply saddened. I remember that one crackpot analyst being so sure that it was Islamist (Salafist in today’s speak) in nature and how incredibly wrong he was.

That vast tragedy overshadowed the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in terms of both the number of casualties and the fact that it forced–for a time–a paradigm shift about how we think about terrorism. With the East Africa bombings in August 1998, the threat of domestic terrorism was once again diminished in the face of an external threat. Al-qaeda with its obscurantist worldview was seemingly more easily interpreted from a national security standpoint than those in league with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Those whose duty it is to protect the land from attacks must be analytically agile and intellectually nimble in order to reevaluate the constantly shifting threat landscape.

The memorial is beautiful yet somber. It is a symbol of tragedy and renewal.

The reflecting pool mirrors a crisp Oklahoma sky, engendering self reflection about life, love, and loss. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood

The reflecting pool mirrors a crisp Oklahoma sky, engendering self reflection about life, love, and loss. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood

Written by derekhenryflood

April 20th, 2015 at 4:07 pm

The Gates of Time

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9:03, the moment the recovery began. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood

Oklahoma City- I stopped in downtown Oklahoma City en route from New York to Los Angeles to make a brief pilgrimage to The Gates of Time, the monument on North Harvey street where just over fifteen years ago, a deranged Iraq War I veteran named Timothy McVeigh detonated a Ryder rental truck he obtained in Kansas in front of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building on April 19, 1995 that killed one-hundred sixty-eight people. McVeigh claimed in prison interviews that the (first) Iraq war was borne of America’s inherently hypocritical foreign policy which increasingly irked his sensibilities and that the federal responses and reactions to the respective incidents at Randy Weaver’s Ruby Ridge property in northern Idaho in 1992 and David Koresh’s Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in 1993 further radicalized him. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection in a federal prison facility in Terre Haute, Indiana on June 11, 2001.

The shallow reflecting pool that was once Northwest 5th street in downtown Oklahoma City. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood

The Oklahoma City National Memorial is stunning in its subdued simplicity and shines as a condemnation of the trend of anti-Federal terrorism and paranoia espoused by the crackpot militia movements of the 1990s. For all the devastation I have witnessed in the third world’s burning heart and as a witness to 9/11, the Gates of Time stand quietly in the American heartland as a reminder not to fall in the lull of assumption that many in this great country take comfort in. McVeigh reportedly felt remorseless about his victims and described the nineteen children he killed in the building’s daycare center as “collateral damage” according to The Guardian’s Julian Borger.  I remember being a first year university student and the news media jumping to conclusions that the bombing could only have been or must have been the work of “Middle Eastern terrorists (read: Arab), which they later blamed on fallible government sources that rendered their inaccurate and non-nuanced reporting blameless (so they said in this American Journalism Review article from 1995). Today a breeze gently blows through the Gates of Time, McVeigh is dead and forgotten as a loner trailer-park terrorist, and America is still in Iraq. Memory. Tragedy.

Every April 19th, the people of Oklahoma City continue to grieve for those lost to the biggest domestic terrorist attack in American history. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood

9:01, the last moment of peace. ©2010 Derek Henry Flood

Written by derekhenryflood

May 19th, 2010 at 9:48 pm