“The last 500 years have been about conquest and domination. The next 500 years need to be about healing the damage, and building a better future…Our children are asking for that.
“All of us have to walk together, side by side, not one in front or behind. It’s no longer the red man or the yellow man, or the black man or the white man. It’s a journey of all the five-fingered ones.”
- Naat’áanii Leon Secatero (1943-2008), To'hajiilee Navajo Chapter
Day 128 - Saturday, October 28, 1995 - I boarded a plane in Manchester, New Hampshire, and set out for the west to be part of the walk for the next week, and in particular to walk with everyone in ceremony through downtown Oklahoma City.
Six months ago on the morning of April 19, 1995—Patriot’s Day—a man named Timothy McVeigh parked a rented truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah federal government complex. The truck was packed with two tons of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel. At 9:02 am the truck shattered in a massive explosion, the blast shearing off the entire north side of the building.
|Aftermath - the Alfred P. Murray federal building in Oklahoma City in the aftermath of terrorist bomb blast that killed 168 human beings, and injured many hundreds of other people.
The 1995 Oklahoma City bomb explosion was the worst domestic terrorism act in U.S. history.The massive blast caused the death of 168 human beings, including 19 children, and seriously injured over 850 other people.
Following recovery of victims' bodies, the surviving structure was demolished with explosives on May 23, 1995, leaving—for the time being—a gaping crater where the building had been.
On Sunday we will walk into the center of the site and sit down in a circle. We will occupy for the afternoon the very spot where the Murrah building stood, where the truck full of explosives detonated, where the suffering and sorrow still is strong. There, with relatives and friends of the people who died, we will make ceremony.
The Oklahoma City bombing revealed an underside of America: hate. This time the hate was personified in Timothy McVeigh and his friend Terry Nichols, the perpetrators. They met while serving in the Army, and shared sympathies with the anti-government militia movement. McVeigh claimed that his aim in bombing the Murrah building was to avenge the siege by the federal government on a compound of fundamentalist Christians in Waco, Texas. Not everyone accepts McVeigh’s statement, or the government account of what happened and why.
|Oklahoma City firefighter carries the body of a one-year old child from the bomb site. Photo by Charles Porter IV.
The Oklahoma bombing is part of the social context of our walk. It happened last April while we were in the final stages of planning our Sunbow walk. Ever since, over the months we have been on the road, media outlets have given wide attention to emerging national and international networks of hate and separation: skinheads, militias, neo-nazis, jihadists, crusaders and their ilk. These reactionary elements cultivate hate, and advance various philosophies of fear, darkness, and racial and religious separation.
Grandfather Commanda says he has faith that we human beings can survive and overcome such waves of hate and separation as may arise. He says he knows we are better than that, and that we will get through it all. He says we will find a way to live together, and to take good care of the earth we all depend upon for our basic food, clothing, shelter, water, and air. That’s why we are walking, he says, to help wake people up to all of these things.
The intention and thrust of our long Sunbow pilgrimage are in counterpoint to the intention of the bombing and its profound consequences for thousands of human beings. We have much further to go.
In Grandfather’s view, prayer and forgiveness are key parts of the process. That’s why he is guiding us to the bomb site. We are going to the crater tomorrow to sit in a respectful manner, and to pray with some of the victim’s families. As illumined in our vision of the Whirling Rainbow, we will pray for everyone and everything, no exceptions.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 129 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire