OKLAHOMA TERROR A WORRY FOR ALL OF US

This was originally published in the Buffalo News. It seems like a good time to revisit it.

18 / 21 – Friday, May 12, 1995

Edition: CITY
Section: VIEWPOINTS
Page: C3
Byline: By CATHERINE B. LANSKI -

OKLAHOMA TERROR A WORRY FOR ALL OF US

I pause at the door after dropping my daughter at the day-care center. At the front of the room, I see one little boy greeting each newcomer with a hug. Near a window, I see a dedicated young teacher coaxing bits of bright orange crayon out of a squirming child’s mouth. A brother and sister with cherubic yellow curls tussle over a red wagon in the center of the sunny room.
My own child, in pigtails, sits diligently working a puzzle, next to a boy who is contentedly munching Cheerios out of a plastic container that his mother packed for him this morning before kissing him goodbye and rushing off to work.
If this scene is not identical to that of the day care center of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City at 9 a.m. on April 19, it comes frightfully close. But a few minutes later that morning in that place, the scene had changed, horribly and irrevocably, to one of carnage and destruction — all at the whim of a handful of evil, misguided people.
Because of these malcontents there are now countless parents who have no chubby necks to nuzzle, no little arms wrapped around their legs at the end of a hard day, no one to scold for blowing bubbles in their milk when they’re supposed to be finishing dinner.
How do we begin to punish the perpetrators of a crime of this magnitude? If the death penalty is called for, as I assume it will be, is the execution of one man retribution for the deaths of nearly 200 people? And while the executed can do no more harm, the hate and rage that inspired them will still exist.
Even if Timothy McVeigh, the alleged bomber, is found guilty, we may never know how many other people are involved. For every captured killer who is extraordinarily violent and vocal in his views, there could be 10 people or more who operate in silence, sharing those views and possibly agreeing with violent means of expressing them.
The death and suffering caused by the bombing of the Murrah Building deeply touched the rescue workers in Oklahoma. Even the search dogs were depressed. But McVeigh reportedly remained unmoved by pictures or accounts of the carnage. He considers himself to be a political prisoner. While his supporters may hold him up as a martyr to their cause, I doubt that the children who were massacred were aware that their finger-painting was infringing upon anyone’s constitutional rights.
In retrospect, given McVeigh’s history and attitude and that of many like him, we should have seen it coming. Too many are making no secret of the fact that they would resort to violence to protect their perceived rights if angry words were not enough.
The rage that was directed at the United States government instead killed innocent children and ordinary people.
The militias that want to destroy the government forget that the only way to eliminate a democracy that was constructed of the people, by the people and for the people is to destroy all of its citizens.
The twisted bodies that were dragged from the wreckage of the federal building are more than just numbers in a body count. They were the young mother stopping by the Social Security office to pick up a card for her newborn or the high-school senior considering a career in the military. Daddies and grandmas and bowling partners perished in that explosion.
Little tykes suffered and died there, like little Baylee Almon, who was carried out of the wreckage in what should have been a moment of triumphant rescue, but instead came to symbolize the horror that darkened that sunny spring morning and so many mornings to come.
That famous picture of Baylee is one of the many that wait for me when I close my eyes at night and try to sleep. But as horrifying as my dreams may be, I know that unlike so many Oklahoma City residents, I can wake up and pad down the hall to see that my family is still safely asleep. But for how long? How long will it be before some disgruntled lunatic decides that someone I love, or their employer or the shop where they popped in for a quart of milk, is responsible for his problems?
Let us all remember that if we are unhappy with the way this country is being run, we can vote at the polls, vote with our voices or vote with our feet and leave. But let us not take the lives of innocent citizens and call it taking a stand against the government.
CATHERINE B. LANSKI lives in Williamsville.
Send submissions for this column to My View, The Buffalo News, Box 100, Buffalo N.Y. 14240.

Keywords: MY VIEW WORDS FROM WESTERN NEW YORK

ID: 805510
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A Toast to Toast

One of our recent prompts was “do you have any foods that are tied to specific memories or emotions?”

I’m going to go a couple of different directions here.

Oddly enough, the first thing that popped into my head was a canned cling peach half.

Way back in the dark ages, when I was a kid, going out to dinner was a relatively rare occurrence. Choices were pretty limited and I was pretty picky in those days. (now I’m just particular and demanding) I think my dad used to order Salisbury steaks, but I’m not sure what my mom and brother did. I usually ordered fried chicken which invariably came with mashed potatoes and a peach half sitting forlornly on a lettuce leaf.

I don’t even remember if I ever ate it.

The other food that comes to mind is toast and tea.

This is my ultimate comfort food.

Yeah, Toast.

We didn’t really have snack food or soda in the house when I was growing up. Sometimes we would have Tastykakes or a bag of Chips Ahoy, but that was more of an occasional treat.

The only soda we usually had was a two liter bottle of 7up for my parents’ highballs.

But we always had the makings of tea and toast. White bread, toasted and lightly buttered with black tea with milk.

I have been drinking tea since I was young enough to drink it from a baby bottle. It was very milky then and quite sweet. I drink it without sugar now, but toast and tea is my go to when I’m sick or in a hurry or just in the mood.

I would never make it on Atkins.

Larger Than a Breadbox

I’m just barely getting my road trip post in here before midnight because I was, of course, on the road.

Today I was driving across New York state to take our daughter back to college. It’s four and a half hours each way so that’s a total of nine hours car time. Usually a Tim Horton’s extra large black on the way and a Starbucks triple venti cappuchino with cinnamon powder on the return. I do enjoy it though. It’s all highway, so I set the cruise control and put Alt Nation or NPR on the radio and rack up the mile markers.

I enjoy it because it’s so meditative since it’s one of the few times when I am not multitasking.

It’s also fun with family. We play our an infinite version of 20 questions which starts with I’m Thinking of a Thing. Popular questions include:

Is it Larger than a bread box?
Is it dead– did you kill it?
Can it be tanged? (translation – is it tangible)

There is usually a lot of reading and singing as well.

Driving really does represent freedom to me as it does to so many, whether relaxing on a long trip now or thinking back to those weekend trips to the shore when I lived in Philly.

I really get why older folk are so reluctant to give up their keys.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlepersons

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The prompt That has inspired me today is one that I skipped earlier in the month:

Support: Talk about a time when you literally or figuratively stood on the sidelines and cheered for someone.

I was astonished when I really thought about it how very much of my time and my social life is spent supporting the efforts of friends and loved ones.

For example, just in the last two weeks:

I went to a bar gig because I knew the drummer.
A volleyball game because I knew two players.
A play because I knew the director.
A high school musical because I knew some of the kids.

And this is fairly typical. I think it’s great though because I have to be entertained anyway, so it may as well be by people I care about. The arts are very important to me. I believe that the ability to create beauty is what separates us from the animals.

So, I show that support by going to:

A photographer friend’s art opening.
A ska band formed of family friends.
Improv by a comic friend.

It would be hard to go back and find a gap of more than a week or two max where I am not cheering a friend from the audience.

Also:

I read blogs daily written by friends.
I watch television show where I know an intern or an actor.
I attend my daughter’s roommates’ basketball games.

This is as well as the literal decades I spent watching my children sing, sketch, act, play baseball, softball, soccer, wrestle or perform gymnastics.

When I think about it, I have done an excellent job of surrounding myself with extraordinarily entertaining people.

The Final Countdown

Tonight’s prompt is the top 5 songs you would want played at your funeral. I haven’t looked at anyone else’s post  because I wanted to see how similar or different our selections were.

Number One is easy: If I Ever Leave this World Alive by Flogging Molly:

Number Two is from Barrage an awesome string ensemble I have seen more that once with my daughter. This one is called Mountain Spring:

Number Three is Bring Him Home from Les Miserables by Colm Wilkinson. I saw him perform it in Toronto and Buffalo and I just sob every time:

Number Four is one of my favorite hymns from when I was little. It’s called The Prayer of St Francis, sometimes called Let There Be Peace on Earth:

Number Five is a more modern hymn, more the praise song genre. I have only learned it the last few years, but it’s a beautiful song. It’s called Open the Eyes of My Heart and this is the Mercy Me version:

Honorable Mentions go to:

Here I am to Worship

How Great is Our God

Siya Hamba

There’s Always Room For Cello

This is a post from a couple of years ago when I first started playing cello.

That particular teacher only lasted a couple of months because she was more of a violin/viola teacher. I soon had a new teacher, a young woman who taught music at a local college. She taught be a ton and lessons were really fun. (“Stop making faces! You’re the only one who thinks it sounds bad,” she told me more than once.)

She took an amazing job in Chicago last year though, and I’ve just been playing on my own ever since. I need to play a lot more that I do though. I could be progressing much quicker than I am though. I’m glad to be finally getting the hang of swung rhythm, but vibrato still evades me, but as I said, not nearly enough practice.

I was pleasantly surprised that reading music came right to me like I’d been doing it all my life. I continue to be challenged by rhythm and tempo. I need to spend more time listening to and imitating the pieces that I’m learning.

I’ll keep playing though as long as I enjoy it.

I Woke Up at North Dakota This Morning

I worked for many years at a technology distributor. I talked to people all over the nation and for some reason, some of them stuck.

This morning I opened my eyes at 701 and my first thought was, “Oh, North Dakota.”

651 is Minnesota, a city I’ve always been fascinated with although I’ve never visited.

615 is the Nashville area of TN and one of my favorite customers in Murfreesboro.

941 is Tampa, Florida and nearby Siesta Key where we love vacation when time and money permit.

619 is San Diego, CA where our oldest lives. 607 is Central NY where our youngest attends college.

301 is Southern MD where we lived in the eighties.

I’ve lived in 716 (Buffalo, NY) for many years, but 215 (Philadelphia, PA) sounds like home. People from there just speak normally to me.

609 is South Jersey; the shore and farm stands of my childhood and the bars and clubs of my young adult years.

I’m sure there are many more that I’ll think of as soon as I stop writing, but when any of these numbers turn up on a clock, a receipt or price tag, my brain goes straight to area code.