The Oklahoma City bombing and Columbine school shooting tragedy may be the most publicized acts of domestic terrorism in recent memory. The Oklahoma bombing took away 168 people in 1995, while Columbine took far less lives by comparison. But both Oklahoma City and Columbine shook America, with brands of violence that could scarcely be imagined by many, in those pre-War on Terror days. The Oklahoma City and Columbine tragedies are side-by-side even further, considering they almost have the same anniversary date.
Today, the Oklahoma City bombing is being marked for its 14’th anniversary. April 19, 1995 was the date that Timothy McVeigh carried out the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, killing 168 and injuring hundreds. At the time, it was the most deadly terrorist attack to hit U.S. soil.
McVeigh and accomplice Terry Nichols were arrested just days later, with McVeigh receiving the death penalty and Nichols getting life in prison.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial was host to a ceremony today, where the names of the dead were read at around the same time of the explosion 14 years ago.
After the attack, the subsequent fire storm was around McVeigh and Nichols’ ties to militia groups and those with ties to the right wing. The topic of militias and right-wing hate groups have recently been fired up again, with the controversy around a recent DHS report signaling out right-wing extremists as being on the rise.
While the Oklahoma City bombing is being marked on April 19, tomorrow marks the anniversary of another horrible event four years later. April 20, 1999 was the date of the Columbine school shooting, which will reach its 10’th anniversary tomorrow.
On that date, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold committed a massacre which did not get topped, at least in the number of people killed, until the Virgina Tech massacre in 2007. The Columbine tragedy touched off a lasting debate on school shooting, how to prevent them, and how to protect our schools.
A new book being released on this anniversary is shedding a new perspective on the shooting. Journalist Dave Cullen’s Columbine examines the media and public’s perception of the shooting and its motives, along with the “psychopathic” plans of Eric Harris, and how the massacre could have been even worse if the killers had detonated propane bombs.
The lasting impact of Oklahoma City and Columbine, and debates about the events and their aftermaths, has not gone away after 10 or 14 years. That fact is made clear every April 19, and every April 20’th that comes after it.
Dallas News- “Oklahoma City bombing anniversary commemorated” www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/042009dnnatokcbombing.14084b3.html
Los Angeles Times- “Right-wing extremists seen as a threat” www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-rightwing-extremists16-2009apr16,0,5094675.story
Cleveland Plain Dealer- “‘Columbine’ by Dave Cullen debunks the myths surrounding school tragedy” www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2009/04/columbine_by_dave_cullen_debun.html