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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 19, 1995

This edition of the Tuesday Timeline is not the most pleasant memory out there.  In fact, the subject is quite a devastating one.  But, it is an event that anybody over the age of 30 would remember, and although it may not be a happy moment of our past, it did shape how we feel about civil and national security.

Before we get to that event, we should take a look at what else happened on this date in history.

1770 - On the same day that Marie Antoinette marries Louis XVI in a proxy wedding, Captain James Cook sights the eastern coast of the continent that would come to be known as Australia

1775 - The American Revolutionary War begins with the Americans winning the battles of Lexington and Concord

1782 - John Adams secures the Dutch Republic's recognition of the United States as an independent government

1839 - The Treaty of London establishes Belgium as a kingdom, guaranteeing the nation's neutrality

1865 - The funeral services for Abraham Lincoln take place

1882 - Charles Darwin passes away at the age of 73

1892 - Charles Duryea claims to have been the first person in the world to drive an automobile

1903 - Prohibition agent Eliot Ness (d. 1957) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1919 - The first successful voluntary free-fall parachute jump is made by Leslie Irvin

1927 - Following her appearance in a play called "Sex", actress Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail on charges of obscenity

1928 - The final fascicle of The Oxford English Dictionary is published

1930 - Actor Dick Sargent (d. 1994) is born in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

1933 - Actress/model Jayne Mansfield (d. 1967) is born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

1935 - Actor Dudley Moore (d. 2002) is born in Hammersmith, London, England

1943 - Dr. Albert Hofmann deliberately takes LSD for the first time as part of an experiment

1956 - Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco

1971 - Vietnam Veterans Against The War begin "Operation Dewey Canyon III" on the same day Charles Manson is sentenced to death for the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969

1987 - The Simpsons make their television debut as one of the sketches featured in "The Tracey Ullman Show"

1989 - 47 sailors lose their lives following the explosion of a gun turret aboard the USS Iowa

1993 - The FBI siege of David Koresh's Branch Division outside Waco, Texas comes to a tragic end as 81 people, including Koresh, die in a fire

1997 - Grand Forks, North Dakota is devastated by the Red River flood

2011 - Fidel Castro resigns from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba after holding the title for four and a half decades

2015 - Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnev is gunned down by police in a shootout; his brother Dzhokhar is apprehended shortly after

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following famous people turning another year older;  Hugh O'Brian, Larry Peerce, Dickie Bird, Elinor Donahue, Stanley Fish, Alan Price, Tim Curry, Mark Volman, Stuart McLean, Tony Plana, Ruby Wax, Tony Martin, Steve Antin, Stevie B., Robert Tyler, Suge Knight, Ashley Judd, Jesse James, Jennifer Taylor, Michael Bacall, James Franco, Kate Hudson, Alexis Thorpe, Hayden Christensen, Kasie Head, Ignacio Serricchio, Kristen O'Connor, and Sebastian de Souza.

Now it's time to revisit a date in history that will forever be imprinted on 20th Century history books forever.

April 19, 1995.

You know, when it comes to the 1990s, I have to say that 1995 wasn't one of my favourites.  Sure, when it came to pop culture events such as movies, music, and television, it was actually not a bad year.  But when it came to personal events, it was a rough one.  It was the year both my mom and sister were hospitalized, which lead to my 14th birthday being one of my least favourite birthdays ever.  It was the year I graduated from my tumultuous elementary school and entered an even more tumultuous high school.  And all in all, I just remember 1995 being a very weird year with O.J. Simpson getting acquitted of murder and an earthquake flattening parts of Japan.

But I think one moment that I will never forget happened on this date twenty-one years ago today...and it's a date that changed the face of Oklahoma City forever.

As I recall, April 19, 1995 was a fairly decent day.  I went to school as normal where I more than likely learned how to conjugate the verb "faire" in French class, learned how to tell the difference between an equilateral and scalene triangle in math class, and played a few songs on the baritone during band practice.  But when I went home for lunch that day, and turned on the television set to watch Bob Barker give away a brand new car on "The Price Is Right", I was instead alerted to this frightening image.

This was all that was left of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  Just after nine o'clock on the morning of April 19, 1995 - right around the time that my math class was on the verge of wrapping up - a gigantic bomb that was stashed inside of a Ryder truck parked outside of the building exploded, causing massive damage to the front of the building, and causing parts of the building to pancake on top of each other, crushing those who were unlucky enough to be in the path of the bomb.

By the time the dust settled, the death toll was staggering.  One hundred and sixty-eight people lost their lives in the explosion.  To make the situation even more tragic, at least nineteen children were confirmed casualties inside of the building - fifteen of the children alone were in the daycare area of the building that was completely demolished in the blast.

It would be the worst terrorist attack on American soil at that time - at least that was until the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.  And within 90 minutes of the explosion, one of the people who was responsible for the bombing was stopped by police.

Shortly after 10:30am that morning, officers pulled over a 1977 Mercury Marquis driven by Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh.  McVeigh was arrested for driving without a license plate and for possession of illegal weapons, as he had a concealed weapon on his person.  While McVeigh was processed for jail, his car was searched and police found a business card inside of McVeigh's car with a message scrawled on the back of the card.

The message read "TNT at $5 a stick - Need More."

Further investigation revealed that McVeigh was the one who rented the Ryder truck that was used in the bombing - a detail later confirmed by the man who worked at the rental place where he provided a near perfect sketch matching McVeigh's description.  Some time passed before McVeigh's co-conspirators, Terry and James Nichols were also arrested and charged with the criminal act.

Both McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted of several counts of murder and conspiracy.  McVeigh was sentenced to death and was executed in prison on June 11, 2001.  As for Nichols, he was given 161 consecutive life sentences without any possibility of parole.  James Nichols was also arrested but released from custody after a little over a month in jail due to lack of evidence against him, and several other people who had inside knowledge of the crime

So, the question that remained is...why would McVeigh and Nichols do something so horrendous?  Why did 168 people - nineteen of which were children no older than six - have to lose their lives?

Well, for conspiracy theorists such as McVeigh and Nichols, it was their way of making a stand against the government - in particular, the federal government.  You see, the reason why the date of April 19 was chosen for a specific reason.  And if you take a look at some of the events I posted that took place on April 19, you'll see that it was on the same day as the Lexington/Concord Battle during the Revolutionary War, as well as the day that the Branch Division fell - an event that McVeigh cited as being one of the greatest failures of the federal government, and felt that this would be the way to make them pay.  After all, the Alfred P. Murrah Building was the home of several government agencies, each of whom had a significant number of people working the morning of April 19, 1995.

But even if a person despises their government, it does NOT give them the right to take the lives of innocent people, especially a bunch of children who did nothing wrong to deserve this.

The building is no more.  The remains of the building were knocked down in May 1995, and in its place lies a memorial of the 168 people who lost their lives that day - and for what purpose?

Let's not forget those who died that day...

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