It was late in the morning. I and the other students were working on our assignment. All I remember is that the entire room moved as if it were one ripple of a pond. The room lifted up ever so slightly and fell back down to just where it was. I can’t remember if I was afraid or excited. I don’t even remember the images on the television that day. The ones that have been replayed on the news broadcasts do seem familiar though, so I think I must have seen them at one point.
Some years later, I had the opportunity to visit the Murrah Building Memorial. Our group saw 168 names on the chairs arranged in the alphabetical order in nine rows – one row for each floor of the building, the reflecting pool where either side had the moment before and after the blast carved in stone: 9:01 and 9:03. This would have had to been before 9/11 as by then I had moved to another state.
It’s been twenty years since that day. When 9/11 occured, I remembered Murrah. I was still in school, taking a standardized test in the late morning hours. At one point, another teacher entered the room and whispered something to our teacher. Not long after that, the announcement was made and the television was turned on so that we could see the events as they unfolded. Then and there I was thinking about Murrah.
Most of the time, I don’t think about Murrah or 9/11 or the Boston Marathon Bombing or Columbine or Sandy Hook or any of the other tragedies that have played themselves out on the television in my life-time. I don’t think about tragedies that happened before my time either. They’re all a sad testament to how much damage can be done when a few individuals have no regard for human life, not even their own life. I’m fortunate that I’ve been pretty far removed from them all. Not once have I stared at the news wondering of a relative survived. Not once have I waited for the telephone to ring hoping for the best or dreading the worst. There’s never been an empty chair at my table or an empty pair of shoes beside my door. I can only hope that this luck holds out – but I would much rather find a way to save lives by preventing tragedies as much as possible. I don’t know how many more tragedies that I should expect to see in my lifetime. Perhaps our legacy should be more than “we will never forget” but also “never again.” I know that given human nature it’s too much to ask, but I also know that there’s a better part of ourselves that would gladly rise to the challenge.
So I’d like to suggest expanding upon the Oklahoma Standard:
“Commit to the Oklahoma Standard
In the month of April 2015, we ask that you commit one act of service, honor, and kindness.
Service means giving your time to someone in need. This could mean volunteering at a soup kitchen, or tutoring a student.
Honor the victims and survivors of the 1995 bombing, by visiting the Memorial Museum, cheering at the Memorial Marathon or leaving a token of appreciation on a chair in the Memorial.
Kindness involves everything from holding a door for a stranger to cleaning up your neighbor’s leaves.” – https://okstandard.org/the-ok-standard/
Let’s take time to serve one another, honor one another, and be kind to one another, each and every month of the year, wherever we live. Let’s value all life and see if that makes for a better world.