A terrible date in American history

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A terrible date in American history

If FDR hadn't already assigned "a date which will live in infamy" to December 7th, April 19th would be more deserving of such opprobrium.

In this country it began well enough, as it was in 1775 that the American Revolution started in Massachusetts with the battle of Lexing­ton and Concord.

(And yes, elsewhere in the world on this date in 1943 a courageous enclave of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto fought back against Nazi rule.)

But the worst was yet to occur, two years apart and directly linked to one another.

In 1993, following a 50 day stand-off between a minor religious sect in Mount Carmel, Texas, and the United States Government, an assault on the Branch Davidian compound by the FBI's "Hostage Rescue{sic} Team" led to the deaths by fire and asphyxiation of 76 civilians, includ­ing 22 children and two pregnant women.

The entire action had been precipitated in late February by a falsely sworn affidavit by a BATF agent because the agency needed a high pro­file case to bolster Director Stephen Higgins's appearance before the upcoming (March 10th) congressional budget hearings.

(This is the same U.S. agency now un­der fire for its "Operation Gun Runner"

At the time of "Waco," BATF was smart­ing from a CBS broadcast the prior month concerning sexual harass­ment within the agency.)60 Minutes

Exactly two years following the deadly Waco conflagration... which I watched live, in dis­belief, anger and tears on CNN... former U.S. Army sergeant Timothy McVeigh built a highly effective bomb to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

In the process he killed 168 people including 19 children beneath the age of six.

McVeigh had purposely timed his attack on the Murrah Building to coincide with the second anniversary of the lethal blaze that ended the siege at Mount Carmel.

According to Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, authors of "American Terrorist," McVeigh was quite clear about his intentions:

"I didn't define the rules of engagement in this conflict. The rules, if not written down, are defined by the aggressor. It was brutal, no holds barred. Women and kids were killed at Waco and Ruby Ridge1. You put back in [the government's] faces exactly what they're giving out."

One can admire the sentiments while deploring McVeigh's actions, but April 19th is, each year, met with mixed emotions by many.

Note
  1. Ruby Ridge in northern Idaho was the site of a notorious 1992 siege in which mem­bers of the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI's HRT shot and killed white separatist Randy Weaver's 14-year-old son and wife with infant in arms.

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