Just because you don't believe it,
doesn't mean I didn't mean it.

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What I Remember
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I don't think I can condense my thoughts about the OKC bombing into a single Facebook status. (Which is not to demean those who did; reading everyone's memories this morning made me want to write this.)

I remember having a very normal biology class in Mr. Pittinger's room until the last five minutes, when the teacher of the other ARC science class came in to ask if we wanted to see "the building that had blown up." (The TV in the other classroom worked and ours did not.) Jac was in that class, so I wandered over to her seat. I still didn't quite get that this was an immediate event.

"Where is this?" I asked Jac.

"Oklahoma City," she said. The bell rang, we went out into the hallway. The usual noise of 1,500 students rumbling through the halls seemed both muted and more intense, as the half of the students that had learned the news already briefed the other half in advance of the principal's official announcement early the next period. I've never heard a hallway full of students sound like that before or since, though I suspect had I been in school on 9-11 it would have been similar.

But somehow what I have always remembered even clearer than that day was the afternoon McVeigh's death penalty was officially announced. I was heading to get my senior pictures taken; the radio was on in the studio and the photographer made an allusion to it in between instructing me to straighten my pant leg and directing me to smile. I think that was the day I started to realize that the events of April 19, 1995 would never really be over; that when violence and hatred erupt in a massive tragedy it will embed itself under your skin, resurfacing into your daily life long past the point at which you have supposedly moved on. It's less present, with time, but never completely gone.

I wish I had not had so many chances to relearn that lesson in the last fifteen years.

This morning, my sister-in-law is teaching her 9th grade biology class right down the hall from where I watched the news 15 years ago. My peers and I are old enough now not to be the consoled, but the ones consoling, should we have to face, yet again, human loss and suffering on such a scale. We have come of age at a time when the phrase "unimaginable tragedy" seems to have lost all meaning. And yet we are here. And yet we love. And yet we remember.

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