Monday, June 1, 2009

Somber Visit





On Saturday, we left Gilbert for a trip to Illinois for our friend, Sonya's wedding. We decided to drive so that we could visit different places in our country and give Cameron that experience. So far, driving is about all that we have done. We spent the first night in Albuquerque getting there quite late. Kerri's friend, Tyson, met us for drinks near the hotel we were staying.

Sunday we drove for many long hours and got to Oklahoma City late again. There is a two hour time difference from Arizona to Oklahoma, plus it was Sunday. We had trouble finding a place to eat and finally ended up at a Denny's. Of course, they have a different menu for after 10:00 p.m. I had no idea as I obviously don't go many places at this time of night!

This morning we visited the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. The memorial is beautifully done to commemorate this horrific event from April 19, 1995. There are chairs dedicated to each person who was killed that day.

"We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."

This is what is written about the purpose of the memorial. What I find amazing is the feeling that you get at a site like this. People who are walking around are talking quietly, etc. I remember when Patrick and I went to New York on St. Patrick's Day after September 11. Everyone around the site at that time were quiet and appeared introspective.

I remember that day very well. It was the end of innocence for us. The fact that such an act of violence could happen here in our country by someone who was a United States citizen was so sad. Then we experienced September 11th six years later. I always read about things like this happening in other countries, but we seemed to be insulated here in the U.S.

I remember talking to my mom and Teresa that day. They told me that a family friend was killed that day. His name was Richard Cummins and he worked for the Department of Agriculture. He was the son of their friend, Christine. I recently wrote about Christine's great granddaughter, Samantha, who won the Margaret Shannon Leadership/Citizenship Award at my school--such a small world and so many connections.

So today when we visited the memorial, one of the security officers took me to the chair with his name on it. He asked me how I knew him. I told him that Richard had grown up in my home town and I knew his mother very well. I remember my mom telling me at the time that his mother was never told that he had been killed. She was in a rest home in Tucson at the time and died shortly after.

Seeing the memorial today was a somber experience and reminded me that we as Americans are not immune to terrorist attacks like people in other countries have experienced for so long. Hate is such an ugly emotion and brings out the worst in humans. It is so simplistic to think that we should all be friends. However, respect for human life and differences of opinion should not result in such a terrible tragedy. My hope for the future is that we can realize this and learn from history and past mistakes. I guess that truly is almost too much to hope for. Maybe if everyone could have the experience we had today and see something like this beautiful memorial, it might make a difference........... I pray that isn't too much to hope for!

4 remarks:

Anonymous said...

What a touching piece Sheila. I hope the rest of your trip is good and that you don't get too worn out with all that driving:) At least you get to see so many wonderful things. Enjoy your time together!
Love & hugs,
Nancy

velvet brick said...

A very beautiful post, Sheila...and I really like the song that you've chosen with the excerpts from Americans and what they experienced. I remember the bombing day in OK very well...I was on my way to Desert Samaritan Hospital where I was a volunteer in the nursery. I had just dropped Maggie off at La Petite and the news came on the radio. My heart sunk. Little did we all know that the 'worst' was still yet to come in the tragic events of 9/11. How wonderful that you all took time to visit this important memorial.

I'm so glad that your trip is going so well - road trips across America are just the best - I made many of them as a young girl from Ohio to Arizona and back. Be safe and continued wonderful memories! Miss and love you all!
Carol

Tami Proffitt said...

wow....thanks for the reminder! we all need to remember this event! i'm honestly speechless for the simple thought of the feelings you must have gone through when standing there. i can't handle the feelings i'm having right now at home, let alone imagine having them there!

xoxo
and thank you...thank you for visiting my blog! i cherish each comment you share and ESPECIALLY this last one! just what i need to read!

Judy said...

Sheila,

We miss all of you. Your piece on the Oklahoma memorial is beautiful. I will share it with mom in the morning. She is sleeping. How useless is violence! I am grateful we have the memorials to remind us that more than just names vanished on those dates. We can not look through people - we need to look into their eyes and see the life and wisdom that resides in each life story.

Lucy misses you! She did everthing in her power to show-off while mom and I visited the four legged members of your family. Harvey is beside himself! Lucy looks a little thinner! Miss you. Give our love to Sonya.