“…This chair, this empty chair where you belong, right in front of me once again, I miss you. “ ~ Alex ~
Reflecting Pool and Gate of Time, a memorial marking the time of the bombing – 9:03 AM April 19, 1999
Each chair represents an empty chair at the dinner table in the homes of the casualties…each chair represents a life lost on that day. The children’s chairs are smaller than the adult chairs. 168 people lost their lives that day.
There is something about this middle week of April. As Plutarch reported, while on his way to the Senate, Caesar was warned by a seer, “Beware the Ides of March”.
From April 15th onward, we now mark too many anniversaries no nation, no people should ever have to mark in a lifetime..let alone in the short span of two decades.
Maybe we should from here on out “beware the Ides of April”…
Like most historical events, I’m sure each of us can remember where we were when each of these events unfolded.
April 19, 1993 was the day that saw the end of the siege of a religious cult compound in Waco, Texas. The siege had begun 50 days earlier after a confrontation between the AFT and some compound members. At its height, the maximum population of members in the compound were 132. They were facing Attorney General Janet Reno, the ATF, FBI, Texas Rangers, Texas National Guard and US Army Special Forces. By the end of the siege on April 19th, 76 men, women and children lay dead from a fire that engulfed the compound after an attack from authorities was launched against the compound.
April 19, 1995 was a dark day in American history. On that day US citizens saw first-hand the evil face of domestic terrorism when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was demolished by a “car bomb”. The magnitude of the bomb blast was so great that 324 buildings in a 16 block radius were damaged. 168 innocent people lost their lives that day including 19 precious children under the age of 6. They had been part of the future of America. Now they were represented by empty chairs.
April 20, 1999 two deranged students took siege of Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. They were not only armed with firearms, but they also had knives and had rigged 99 explosives throughout the school and in vehicles parked around the school. Thirteen people died that day before the cowards turned their weapons on themselves and committed suicide.
April 16, 2007 a student with documented mental illness went on a rampage on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia killing 32 people and injuring another 17. He then killed himself.
And, now we have April 15, 2013. The day two bombs detonated at the beloved Boston Marathon. I love Boston. I have spent good times there. I love the Red Sox. When I heard of the location of the blast, I thought, “My God, I’ve probably walked that street.” It felt personal to this Southern gal, even though I’m not a runner.
It’s too early at this point to have all the details. We do know 3 people lost their lives, 140 have been injured, some very gravely. Officials are being very tight lipped about a “person of interest”. They have been reluctant to call this an act of terrorism until just recently. Foreign media is reporting there is a Saudi national who was in the US on a school visa being held in custody. There is much still to learn about this developing story…
When I originally began working on this post Sunday (the 14th) I had no idea that evil was lurking around the corner, waiting to explode and break the tentative since of security and safety we have here in the States. Each event seems to chip a little bit more away each time…I believe we are more under siege than we realize.
I began this post to commemorate the the upcoming anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and share some photos I took during a visit there in 2001.
It was a cold, overcast somber day in January 2001 when I visited the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. The crucial essence or backbone of what the memorial was to be was in place, but other areas were still developing. It would be dedicated a year later and officially opened. One of the most sobering and moving tributes was a stretch of chain link fence that was full of tributes left by individuals in memory of those lost on that horrific day.
The day I was there wasn’t quite six years past April 19, 1995 when that deadly and unbelievable act of domestic terrorism took away the innocence of Oklahoma City and of the nation at large. We had wept as a country. Six years later I still wanted to weep.
We were changed forever more…
But, we were yet to be tested…
Little did I know, standing there in January 2001 in less than six months I would be going through an unforeseeable upheaval of my own when my husband walked out on our marriage. Nor did I know in less than nine months our nation would be rocked to its very foundation when foreign terrorist attack the US on September 11, 2001 leaving almost another 3,000 empty chairs across the country.
We all walked around, stunned, shocked, concerned, frightened and asking “why” after each of these event. We became angry, pointed fingers and railed against man and God each time forgetting it is that kind of darkness that leads to the acts that have damaged us in the first place. It takes very dark hearts to carry out such devastating acts against the innocent.
I like the way James says it: “What starts wars and fighting among you? Is it not because you want many things and are fighting to have them? You want something you do not have, so you kill. You want something you cannot get, so you fight for it…” James 4:1-2 New Life Version
I would venture to say a dark heart is at the root of any act of senseless violence…
There are many, many empty chairs across the nation tonight. Regardless of how that chair became empty, it hurts. My own family went through the holiday season with an achingly empty chair because we lost my beloved Aunt LaRue last June. There’s been an empty chair in my heart since I lost my Papaw at the age of ten. No one can ever fill those empty chairs.
Tonight, we add at least three more empty chairs because of the bombing in Boston.
My heart grows weary of these needlessly, vacant, empty chairs….
© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.