It happened on April 19, 1995.
The first bombing of New York’s World Trade Center was already history.
But it did not have near the impact of that day when a madman named Timothy McVeigh detonated a rented truck packed with explosives, killing 168 people and wounded three times as many, with the collateral damage resulting in more than $600 million worth of damage.
In Oklahoma City, the victims were remembered last week, on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.
On the television news shows and on the radio the skirl of the bagpipe was heard, its notes trailing into the ether like invisible incense, marking the solemn nature of the gathering to mourn what was lost.
The reminder of that shocking, sad day is poignant for so many reasons.
One is the picture that this memorial paints of how our world – domestically and internationally – has changed so much since then.
The endless, vituperative words and catch-phrases of talking heads on all sides of the political spectrum, the seasoning in the gumbo of a 24-hour news cycle, were not nearly so common and not easily stomached.
But we as a nation recognized that mass destruction, mass killing in the name of a madman’s cause was a reality.
It wasn’t until Sept. 11, 2011, just over six years after Oklahoma City, that we came to know just how right that statement could be.
The body count of thousands who died as a result of the 9/11 attacks, the furor and the lachrymose scenes that followed the mass murders at the World Trade towers and the Pentagon still shape the national consciousness, still give us reason to pause, and most of all give us reason to remember.
But we must never give in to the luxury of assuring ourselves that any tragedy “happened so long ago” or that a body count from the past, because it is an inferior metric, is any less tragic, and that is the message the Oklahoma City memorial last week sends.
It is also a reminder that we must continue our prayers, for the dead, the wounded and for ourselves. And that we should unfailingly continue the entreaty “God bless America.”
Canal issue: Not a parish fight
The dispute between some Gheens residents and Arlen “Benny” Cenac’s Golden Ranch over the Company Canal has resurfaced, causing Councilman Lindell Toups to once again champion the cause of those residents, by seeking to have Lafourche Parish use its resources to fight a legal battle already lost once.
To the residents, Cenac’s determination to keep the waters private – as the courts have said he may – is a prickly thorn not easily suffered. They say they cannot reach Lake Salvador from their homes without canal access, and so their anger is understandable.
They are free to pursue the matter in the courts, for as long as their resources will permit.
The Parish of Lafourche rolling up its sleeves for a legal fight with Cenac that will likely produce little for the benefit of the 97,000-plus people who do not covet the canal would be, at best, a fool’s errand for government.
District Attorney Cam Morvant has spelled out clearly to the Parish Council members his opinion as their official counsel. Taking $100,000 from drainage to fight a quixotic battle is not in the public’s interest.
The dispute was not one that involved the parish initially, Morvant opined, and nothing has changed to suggest a change.
Toups, understandably, has difficulty accepting the opinion and would like Morvant to appear before the Council in person.
Continuing – on an official level – to spoil for a fight with Cenac, with the parish as the tip of the legal spear is not a responsible course of action.
We applaud the tenacity of Toups, and the fact that he is willing to go to bat for a handful of residents is laudable at some level. But to continue seeking the parish’s intervention is, as the District Attorney has already pointed out, ill-advised.
If, as Morvant suggests, the residents want to mount a new battle on their own then God-speed. But not on the public dime.