The events of April 19th 1995 will forever remain in the heads of the residents of Oklahoma. On this fateful day, 180 innocent civilians lost their lives and approximately 800 were left injured. But what really led to such a catastrophe? The US government called it an act of terrorism and up to the September 11th attack in 2001; this was regarded as the worst act of terrorism ever to be experienced in the US. What is surprising is that unlike the September 11th (911) attacks, this was a domestic act of terrorism aimed at the US government.
This leads to the next question, what grudge a US citizen would have against his own government. The two suspects who were arrested and later convicted and sentenced to death, were not impressed by the way the government handled the Waco and ruby ridge incidents. In fact, the bombing occurred on the anniversary of the Waco incident. However, on that day a bomb exploded next to the Alfred P Murrah federal building. It destroyed close to a third of the building and created a large crater next to the foot of the building. The bomb was made of a large quantity of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, diesel fuel and nitro methane mixture.
It was detonated at exactly 9. 02 am and the events of the day, left a sad story to be told to the future generations of the United States of America. This paper will therefore analyze the events of the day, the bombing and the reaction by the authorities. It will also give brief information with regards to the impact of the bomb. Synopsis As stated in the introduction, the bomb was detonated at exactly 9. 02am. At this hour, a truck containing the contents mentioned earlier, that were used to make the bomb, was driven next to the Federal building.
Oblivious of what was about to happen, the authorities had no reason to doubt the contents of the truck and take it through a thorough search. 324 buildings were damaged and destroyed as a result of this bomb. Many vehicles were also burned down and destroyed. In the reports by the authorities, it was stated that glass from 258 buildings in the vicinity were shattered and broken down. This alone accounted to 5% of the death total and 69% of the injuries outside the building. Of course the destruction led to the loss of homes and property for many of the people living and working around.
Two suspects were arrested as a result of the bombing. Timothy Mc Veigh and Terry Nicholas were arrested. They met in 1988 during military training. The two were anti government and were in most cases against government policies on two issues; the governments position on gun acquisition and owning, the governments position on the Waco and the Ruby Ridge incident. They opposed the government on these issues. The Waco siege occurred in 1993. The government wanted to execute a search warrant at Branch Davidan ranch on Mount Carmel in Waco Texas.
This led to some protests and resulted to the exchange of fire leading to the deaths of four agents and six civilians. The whole siege lasted for 51 days and led to the deaths of 76 people. The incident at Ruby Ridge was more or less of the same nature. In this incident, Randy Weaver, his family and his friends were involved in a confrontation with the federal agents from the US marshals service and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. This occurred in Ruby Ridge in the state of Idaho. In the two incidents, federal agents seem to be involved.
The two suspects of the bombing were not impressed by the issues and decided to take matters on their own hands. They bombed the federal building in Oklahoma. So, were their actions heroic acts or were they just plain terrorist acts? Whatever way one chooses to look at this action taken, it still remains that they ended up causing more damage than good. One cannot prevent the cause of evil and evil itself by doing evil. Some times, it is better for nature just to take its own action. Through their action, 168 people lost their lives.
Many were left homeless and others were badly injured. When compared to the actions of the federal agents, the difference is the same. They both ended up killing innocent civilians. The only difference between the two is that their causes of actions were different. However, what was done was done. It was now upon the government to see to it that they take the necessary measures and react to the situation decisively. How then did the government officials assigned to the command post react? To every action, their must be an equal but opposite reaction.
This is one of the laws of physics that applies to many situations even modern day life. In this case the society had to react to the situation and probably offer humanitarian aid. This was not going to be easy. Approximately forty minutes after the blast, the Governor at that time, Frank Keating declared a state of emergency and ordered all non-essential workers located at Oklahoma to be relocated and move from the region immediately. This would enable the government officials and the rescue services to work effectively. This was a wise move since effective from then on, things were moving at a fast rate.
The president at that time, Bill Clinton, also heard of the bombing and responded to it by offering his condolences, declaring it a state disaster and offering financial aid from the government. However, the incident command system response was the one to admire the most. This was some kind of a mental programme used as a response in trying to help the ones affected health wise cope with the situation. Many people were affected by the blast either mentally or physically. To cope with the mental situation, a command post was set up to offer counseling services to the victims on the spot to avoid further complications.
This really assisted the residents since some of them were not affected physically by the blast but were not able to cope with the idea that an act of terrorism had just occurred right under their noses. The other form of set up that was there to help the affected civilians was that of the rescue mission. As soon as the bomb was detonated, a state emergency operations centre was set up. This comprised of the military, the education sector and the medical service sector who offered their assistance to the affected people. Within the first hour, close to fifty people were rescued from the building.
This was a product of the joint efforts by the above mentioned team. All the hospitals in the area received victims of the blast. In the first day, 153 victims had been treated at St. Anthony’s hospital which is just a few blocks from where the blast occurred. Universities and churches also took in some of the victims brought in for treatment. These efforts were fruitful as some hours later, rescue workers found what they believed to be a second bomb. They ordered that all the buildings within a four block radius be evacuated.
This was not to be so as it was leant later that the device was a stimulator used in training federal agents and bomb sniffing dogs. Much as the response and the rescue efforts were termed successful, the implications and the effects of the bomb were catastrophic and are being felt to date. The massive loss of lives and property was felt for a very long time. At the end of the first day, 20 people were found and confirmed dead. The effect that this had to the families and friends of the victims are not to be forgotten. Many people were traumatized by this fact and at the end of the final rescue effort, 168 people had been confirmed dead.
Children were also traumatized leading to some acquiring mental illnesses. Many people lost their property as many building and other assets were destroyed in the blast. Some were compensated but in other cases others did not receive the compensation they needed. This meant that they had to start from scratch again. Many people were injured and some were left with permanent disabilities that they lived with for life. Conclusion In conclusion, it should be noted that much as the suspects arrested thought they had the best interests of the people at heart; it is not wise to react to evil by doing evil.
The bomb ended up causing more harm than good and they even killed more people than the federal agents they were against. The reaction by the authorities and the locals was one to admire, nevertheless. The worked tirelessly and managed to save many. This day will forever remain in the history books of the residents of Oklahoma as a day of doom. References Michael, Lou and Herbeck; (1996), American Terrorists, London: SAGE. Patrick N; (1999), A Day of Doom, Washington: Oxford University Press Richardson S; (1997), Waco Massacre, London: Paul and William. Stephen M; (1994), The Ruby Ridge siege. London: SAGE