We come here to remember.

Elijah was two years old, and Aaron was five. Two brothers in a day care center, dropped off by a loving family member on a beautiful spring morning in Oklahoma City. Killed when Timothy McVeigh drove his bomb-laden truck into the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 at 9:02 am. 168 people dead; hundreds injured.

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As a mom of two sons, the horror of this shakes me again even these 21 years later as I visit the Oklahoma City National Museum and Memorial. “We come here to remember” is the theme. The outdoor part of the memorial has chairs engraved with the names of all who died. The children’s chairs are smaller. I happened upon the ones for Elijah and Aaron whose lives I had read about inside the museum. “We come here to remember.”

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Evil is a total disconnect from the human experience. A complete disregard for what it is to be human. A depletion of any emotional connection to those who are discarded as if they were simply non-existent. Timothy McVeigh showed no emotion about his actions.

“We come here to remember.” I have come to Oklahoma for the first time in my life. I understand now that I am coming here to be reminded to remember.

Oklahoma is home today to 39 Indian tribes.

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I am remembering how our country treated the First Nations Peoples as if they were simply non-existent and disposable.

Most of the tribes here today were forced to migrate to Oklahoma from their ancestral lands.

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The Cherokees were rounded up and marched more than a thousand miles to designated “Indian territory.” “The Trail Where They Cried” reveals more than the often used “The Trail of Tears.” Those tears belonged to real people who cried. Let us not sanitize our language as if tears simply fall on a trail; let us remember the painful cries of the people from whose cheeks they fell. We have a long history of making them “savages” and therefore, less than human so we could disconnect from their humanity. And from ours, as we destroyed their lives.

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 “We come here to remember.”

We are in the midst of a strengthened movement within our country to “otherize” and dehumanize people who are not part of the dominant white and Christian culture. So that we can continue to treat them as less than human, disposable. Do not doubt that this is a movement of evil. It is a movement we have seen before in our own country’s history as well as elsewhere in the world.

 

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Let us take seriously our responsibility to remind each other that “we come here to remember.” We come to this moment in history with a choice. A life or death choice. May we remember how to choose life.

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Children’s tile wall at Memorial

 

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Post by Diane

 

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