Today marks the twenty-second anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. My memories of this day are dim; I lived in North Carolina, so I didn’t know anyone personally who may have been affected. I do remember seeing the footage of the ruined building on CNN and Headline News; I remember the picture of the firefighter carrying a dying infant. Those are the clearest memories that I have of this day. Those and of a gnawing fear.
At this point in his life, my father was going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. It had started up roughly about the time of the Waco siege; to my father, the reaction of the federal government was over the top, far too aggressive. He felt the same about Ruby Ridge. He was certain that the government was coming to take away “our” guns and “our” rights. He and one of his friends often agreed on that point.
My father actually agreed with the militia movement. He supported it. He and my mother both were more than happy to paint the government and the Clintons with broad strokes; they were power-hungry and wanted nothing more than willing to trample over the little people like us. The government was evil, never to be trusted.
Which is why, when I heard about the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, I felt afraid. I was absolutely afraid that my father would tacitly approve of what had happened, that he would see this as a necessary evil and that the loss of life was unfortunate but needed. How else would the government learn to not over-step its boundaries?
I don’t remember my parents mentioning a lot about the bombing. I don’t remember a lot of conversations about Timothy McVeigh or any of his accomplices. I don’t remember a lot of anything being said about the entire incident or the accompanying trial. Mostly what I remember was my parents planning on moving to Alaska, away from the government and where you actually owned the land and din’t have to pay taxes. (What they failed to realize was the fact that without taxes, you didn’t have cozy services such as a fire department or trash collection.) They were talking about taking me with them and I was already resisting, as I had no desire to live in the middle of nowhere, with mail delivery only twice a year and no internet or television. Thankfully, that idea fell through and I ended up in the Great White North of Wisconsin, the land of cheese and beer and the Brewers.
It was around that time that my father went full-on libertarian, as well did my mother. So on that day, there were repercussions in my life; I just didn’t see them at the time.
It’s been twenty two years since that moment, when I stood in the kitchen, staring at the television in utter shock. I’ve changed since that moment, as have my parents. I’m still not sure if Mom and Dad changed for the better, though.