An open letter from Oklahoma regarding the Boston Marathon

Despite the fear and violence, the good guys showed up. And will keep doing so.

Despite the fear and violence that marred the Boston Marathon, the good guys showed up. And will keep doing so.

Dear Boston,

It’s hard to find the right words. But we feel your pain, shock and sadness. Deep within us.

In a little less than two weeks, people from all over Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma are going to gather to run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. It’s a great race, the state’s biggest. And while competition and achievement are high on the list for those of us going, there is a higher purpose for the event: To highlight the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

In a matter of a few days, we here in Oklahoma are going to reflect on the event that gave rise to the Memorial, and later the marathon that bears its name. It was on April 19, 1995, that Timothy McVeigh exploded a huge truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, killing 168 people — including 19 children at a second-floor daycare — and injured hundreds more.

Since that time, the Memorial and its accompanying museum and institute has had a goal of educating people about the dangers, causes and prevention of violence and terrorism here and abroad. We learned a lot about those subjects in the moments, days and years that followed 9:02 a.m. on that dark, spring day.

Our thoughts will be on that time. But they’ll also be fixed on another sad April day. April 15, 2013. The day where a celebration of athleticism, dedication and toughness that is the Boston Marathon — America’s marathon — turned into a day of bloody carnage.

Anticipation, joy, pride — all wiped away when a couple of bombs exploded near the finish line on Monday afternoon.

Terrorism. Here. Again.

Inside one of the Gates of Time at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Inside one of the Gates of Time at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

I know what it looks like. Back in 1995, while working for a little suburban newspaper in Oklahoma City, I went to the Murrah Building site soon after the attack. What I saw reminded me of past bombings, overseas, in havens of war like Beirut. Friends and co-workers are still haunted by what they saw there. Oklahoma City rebuilt, but did not forget. Those who died are memorialized beautifully and the hard truths of violence, extremism and evil are kept front and center by the people who maintain the Memorial. If you ever come to Oklahoma City, it is a place you must see.

But in the here and now, we feel what you feel. The grief. The anger. The desire to do something — anything — to help. The inevitable, unanswerable questions:

Why would anyone do this? How could anyone in their right mind think it’s OK?

Who would attack runners, the nicest, most harmless tribe of folks on the planet? And the spectators who gathered to cheer them on?

How could anyone live with themselves knowing they’d killed people, innocent people, including a kid? How could they stomach the sight of themselves in the mirror knowing some of their victims won’t walk on their own two legs ever again?

McVeigh went to the death chamber as defiant as he was twisted, sanctimoniously quoting the poem “Invictus” before a lethal cocktail of drugs sent him to his eternity. It’s not worth your time trying to get into the minds of people like him, or Osama bin Laden, or all the other crazies out there who seek soft targets in cowardly attacks that have the unreasonable and unreachable goal of forwarding their ideological aims.

Truly, I cannot answer the question of why evil is allowed to persist in this world. Hell, I can’t answer any of these tough questions.

But what I can say is that the good guys will show up. In fact, many already have, tending to the injured, lining up to donate blood (in some cases, immediately after crossing the finish line), doing the police work to hunt the bastards down. And they’ll keep showing up. It’s just what they do. What most of us do.

Here in Oklahoma, we may not all be able to lend you a direct hand. But this is a place of people who pray, and there’s a lot of that going on right now on your behalf, Boston.

And you can bet that we’ll be running in your honor, too. Thousands of us. On April 28, we hit the starting line in downtown Oklahoma City, a stone’s throw away from where we lost our innocence. Yes, we’ll be running for the 168 of our own who died and the many more who were spared but inexorably scarred.

But we’re running for you guys, too. Because we know.

Take care, Boston. We’re with you.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

60 thoughts on “An open letter from Oklahoma regarding the Boston Marathon

  1. Pingback: Home Sweet Oklahoma | dickersonTM

  2. Great article…. Only it was April 19, 1995. Heard it, felt it, will ever forget it as I was in OKC at the time.

  3. Pingback: An Open Letter from Oklahoma Regarding the Boston Marathon | IronTry

  4. Thank you for putting this into writing. Acts of evil absolutely break my heart, but I feel no greater sense of pride than when heroes step up in the wake of these events. Love will prevail.

    An Oklahoma hiker in Denver

  5. Thank you for this heart felt and boldly honest letter. You put in to words what my Oklahoma heart is feeling for the people of Boston. I/we/Oklahoma, are praying for you, outraged with you, sad with you, empathize with you. Evil such as this is unacceptable! We stand with you Boston! Oklahoma has your back. I can almost bet most Oklahomans would agree with me. prayers and hugs from a nurse in Oklahoma.

  6. Beautiful! Having lived in the Boston area, I feel like my city was attacked. Just like New York; Just like Oklahoma City. When will the insanity end? Terrorists are cowards. We have always gotten back up when we’re knocked down, & we’ll do it again. Why? Because we’re Americans, that’s why! God bless Boston. We stand with you!

  7. Reblogged this on where it's @ !~ and commented:
    Having lived in the Boston area, I feel like my city was attacked. Just like New York; Just like Oklahoma City. When will the insanity end? Terrorists are cowards. We have always gotten back up when we’re knocked down, & we’ll do it again. Why? Because we’re Americans, that’s why! God bless Boston. We stand with you!

  8. Great Letter, Thanks for expressing the thoughts of so very many of us. Such acts of evil have gone on for many years and will probably continue from those who have twisted minds and have no feelings for others. Lou Melot

  9. Thanks Bob for the great article. I will run my first OKC Marathon this year. I’m more excited and motivated to run to remember our friends in Boston and Oklahomans who suffered from evil. Righteous always prevailed over evil.

  10. Sadly, I’ve had the misfortune of witnessing both the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Boston Marathon Bombings unfold just a few miles from the place I call home. When the news of the bombings broke out on Monday afternoon, I couldn’t help but relive all of the terrifying emotions that consumed me on that wretched April day in 1995 when I was just 8 years old. ‘Was it an accident? Are my friends and family alright? Who could have done this? Why is this happening?’ The feelings of confusion and overwhelming sadness were there again this time, but now, 18 years later, new feelings of crushing anxiety and hopelessness have taken over. The only solace getting me though is that I know, first-hand, in times of tragedy cities, communities, families, and friends support one another in unimaginable ways and are able to somehow get to the other side together. In just a few weeks my father is running the Memorial Marathon in Oklahoma City for the first time and I could not be prouder of him!

  11. Articulate, honest, and heartfelt. Our city rose together as one after the bombing here. We showed the world how to stand with grace and resiliency in the face of terror. We relieve the pain that comes with each new act of terrorism, but we also strengthen our resolve to fight back and remind people that they too can overcome. The good in humanity will always triumph the evil and your well written letter exemplifies that.

  12. One of the only positive things about 9/11 was there was no more money for the IRA terrorists coming out of the US and it encourgaged then to come to the table and negotiate peace. No normal person seeing the devestaion after a bomb attack could possibly hope for anything but peace. I have seen destruction near my home town and in London where various family members worked.
    I hope that the ones who are hurt are helped. The families who lost somone find peace and that the authorities fins the evil people who think this is a suitable way to protest.
    God bless

  13. This piece says so much that I want to say, but is buried beneath waves of anger and indignation that keeps pushing to the surface of my consciousness. I faced the undercurrent of pure evil in our society, at the awesome Oklahoma City Memorial several years ago. After 45 minutes passing through exhibits and artifacts from that terrible day, 19 April, 1995, I left trying to get my breath back. Now several years and multiple tragedies later, I look around and wonder where the world went that I used to know. Bob, you marked the enduring hope for all of us in this article. Good guys will continue to show up.

  14. I was born in Manhattan, and have chosen to live out my life in Oklahoma City. And Boston is the city where I go to receive the infusions that are saving my life. Relate? Heck yes. And I’ll be downtown on the 28th, cheering on my daughter and her fiance. Thanks for a beautiful letter. God Bless America! Paul

  15. Very well said. This will be my first marathon but I live in Massachusetts and will be returning home to participate. This is so surreal that it happened here. I know when I lace up for the Run to Remember, Boston will be on my heart and mind too. Thanks for writing such a great blog.

  16. Reblogged this on Mile Marker and commented:
    As an Oklahoma native, finisher of 7 marathons- 3 of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon- it’s first 3 runs ever these are my sentiments. I will never forget that day- April 19th 1995- it was long before terrorism was center stage in our world. Then again, perhaps it was just my coming of age, thrust into the real world out of my perfect world. Read this and I will tell a fun God story tomorrow.

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  27. Thank you for the article. It is a great reminder to pray for all those who remember and grieve and whose lives will never be the same because of a tragic and senseless act.
    We’ve been there… to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. We’ve felt the shock and horror every time people do the unimaginable. When we visited the memorial, I recognized a friend who sings in a large choir that we were both members of (The Singing Churchwomen of Oklahoma). As we talked in hushed tones, she told me that she had been scheduled to take photographs that morning at the Murrah Federal Building but had re-scheduled because of a conflict.
    There are no words which could be adequate to comfort the pain of people whose lives have been suddenly shattered. But there are prayers…lots of prayers.

    There is a post on our blog about Heaven and all that God is preparing for us because of His great love and mercy.

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