Location: United States

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Revelation, not Revolution

I've been struggling to put together coherent posts this week. Instead, I am posting the following speech given by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry on the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attack that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Ok City:

In Psalm 46:5 we are told:

“God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.”

When the Reverend Billy Graham came to Oklahoma City 10 years ago, to comfort us in the wake of the Murrah Building bombing, he told us that we could do one of two things.

Either we could become hard and embittered and angry at God, or we could let our hearts become tender and open to trust and divine faith. We Oklahomans chose the latter.

Such resilience is inspirational, but not surprising. From the hardscrabble beginnings of our pioneers to the tornadoes that sometimes disrupt the arrival of spring, our state has faced and conquered its share of challenges.

But while we have learned to face the occasional cruelties of nature, nothing prepared us for the man-made cruelty that unfolded on a sunny morning 10 years ago this very day. One-hundred-and-sixty-eight people – including 19 children and babies – were killed, hundreds of others seriously wounded, for the sole transgression of going about their daily lives.

The perpetrators of that crime were motivated by blinding hatred. By their twisted actions, they intended to incite discontent and destroy the rule of law. They intended to spread fear and paranoia. They intended, in fact, nothing short of revolution.

The reality of what followed, however, proved to be much different.

The grief that flowed from that day was not the legacy of the Murrah bombing. The collective family of Oklahoma demonstrated strength and compassion, courage and love. Firefighters, police and other rescuers embodied true heroism under the most tragic of circumstances. Our medical community performed miracles. Oklahomans lined up to donate anything and everything that was needed. And the world saw the goodness and compassion that became known as the “Oklahoma Standard.”

That kindness was not limited to Oklahoma. Our country united in an outpouring of support and resolve that proved the character of America and foretold the astonishing response of the nation six years later, when it would weather an even deadlier act of terrorism.

We will always remember the very real agony and loss unleashed 10 years ago. Lives were lost and lives were changed forever. The physical and psychological scars of that time remain very much in evidence. Indeed, one of the most resonant images from that awful morning was that of a precious baby girl, her lifeless body cradled in the arms of an Oklahoma City firefighter.

That photograph starkly conveyed the tragedy of that terrifying morning, but it revealed the compassion, too. For it was in the image of firefighter Chris Fields that America and the rest of the world saw the kindness and love of the Oklahoma family.

Despite the murderous plot of the conspirators, there was no revolution to follow the Oklahoma City bombing. But there was revelation.

That revelation was the goodness of humanity. Across the dark abyss of pain and grief where the Murrah building once stood, came light -- a reflection of hope -- a powerful illumination cast off by a people of boundless spirit and relentless resolve.

As we reflect on the events and legacy of that horrific day, let us honor the memory of those who died, those who survived and those whose lives were forever changed.

But let us also honor those victims by looking to the future. Let us honor them by living lives of joy, of meaning, of love and fulfillment – the lives that they would want us to lead.
I've been struggling this week to put together coherent thoughts for the blog. So, instead, I've decided to post these words from Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, spoken on the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Ok City:

May God bless the lost and injured and their families. May God bless the victims of violence everywhere and those who help them during times of need.

By the grace of God, Oklahomans conquered evil with good. We conquered despair with hope. We will continue to build a better community and state, and honor those so untimely taken from us.

The Oklahoma Standard is not a past event. It is part of the character of the people of this city and state.

The morning has dawned; the brightness of day is before us. God is in the midst of the city.

Thank you, and God bless us all.


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