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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Among the rubble
Date Posted: January 10, 2021

Who would have thought something so mundane could cause so much pain… something which helps put great food on our tables, with a man’s hate would kill so many? Terrorists have this thing about utilizing the mundane to inflict immense pain. Our wars today have gone far beyond what our fore fathers had to fight.

For the record, I remember years ago reports coming out of Iraq and out of Washington talking about nuclear grade uranium being found in Iraq. I also remember reports of chemicals being found. In 2004 the U.S. military removed two tons of uranium from Iraq and “hundreds of highly radioactive items that could have been used in so-called dirty bombs,” the Department of Energy disclosed on July 7,2004. Much of that radioactive stuff was medical grade in powder form, which is easily dispersed over a wide area. Is that not a WMD? I learned in high school science that radioactive material can make a person’s insides so much spaghetti.

Who would have thought that fertilizer would make a bomb so devastating to the people in Oklahoma City which would reverberate around the world? Have you been to the memorial in OK. City? It is one of the most emotional experiences an American can have, and I believe it is a must experience for anyone who has an opinion on the War on Terror. Take a walk with me through this beautiful tribute.

“...Our deeply rooted faith sustains us,” these words are etched in the stone railing that surrounds The Elm Tree or better known as The Survivor Tree. Today the tree provides thick, lush shade for any who desires to sit and rest a bit.

Look over the railing. Spread before you is a crystal, reflecting pool of water, and a field of white chairs, one for each victim. The time in the towering monuments reflected in the water is 9:03. Step back from the railing and notice how the Survivor Tree frames the word faith from above and the shade of the tree frames the word from below.

I really don't know what was printed before those words because I was so struck by how perfectly the glory was given to God. This was firmly planted on Federal soil. On a wall close by is written, “Team 5,4-19-95, We search for the truth, we seek justice, the courts require it, the victims cry out for it and God demands it.”

Now compare that voice of man crying for justice and the shadow of a twisted and broken fire escape, man's work overshadows the cry. Yet, God's creation grows underneath it and beside it; the bushes and young trees and flowers are a splash of hope. There was a sign over one of the churches that went up sometime during the search and rescue. “Our God reigns and we remain.”

After you help pay for the maintenance of the memorial, you go to the third floor. It is a short ride to horror and hope. As we step from the elevator, we see lots of life-sized pictures of a normal morning with normal morning sounds coming from the speakers. These sounds progress as the time progresses as we walk the Timeline. The time, we are told, is 6 a.m. Breakfast sounds and early morning traffic. As we walk around the room, we see the time progress from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. The first thing that pierces me is a picture taken a few days before the blast. It shows the kids at the day care having a blast with their day care workers. Normal. Sounds of laughing children and adults scurrying to work give us the feeling all is right with the world. We move on past 8 a.m. Looking at typical American morning scenes. We move to a door with a red light above it located in the far corner of the room. It is now 9 a.m.

We face a closed door, and we must wait a few minutes. I pinch my nose hard in order to block the tears that threaten to flow. We have no idea what lies behind that door, but there isn’t much time to speculate because the door to the Hearing Room opens. We all crowd into the room. It has a glass wall on one side with a table and a few chairs. Benches are on the other side and several Senior citizens seat themselves. We hear a recording of a water rights hearing, and it reminds me of the Tensas Parish Police Jury meetings. Yawn.

Then something explodes, a boom seems to rock the room, the lights flash on and off and the glass wall lights up. For the first time we see the faces of 168 victims of Homeland Terrorism. We are told we must leave the room and to hurry, but not to panic. “Walk this way,” someone says. A huge TV screen is informing us as we leave what just happened. The Federal Building just exploded and that was right across the street!

We walk around glass cases. Our feet are on clean, cool tiles, but inside the cases are piles of dusty rubble dotted with baby shoes, eyeglasses, coffee cups, date books, shoes, wallets. It is so shocking, we can’t take it all in. Every step we take, TV reporters are giving us a minute by minute report on the happenings. Behind another glass case, a filing cabinet, twisted open and files covered in dust, warped pages of a phone book, normal day things and necessities are in this surreal environment. A phone sitting on top of a filing cabinet minus its receiver reminds us that help was not just a phone call away for these people. But it did come in a rush.

We walk on.

Hundreds of pictures cover the walls: Pictures of survivors, and rescuers. They tell us on little white cards, crisp and clean what they were thinking and feeling as they were pulled from the rubble. Rescuers tell us what they were rejoicing over and despairing of as they worked. A scalpel, a pocketknife and an 1/8 inch cord hang beside a picture of a woman with her leg pinned under a concrete piling. The leg had to come off, but she survived.

But we walk on.

It starts to rain that day and people drive by to give raincoats and rain gear to the workers, never expecting to get the gear back. Grief and hope flood my soul. Grief over what man had done to the innocent and hope because of the goodness mankind displayed that day. Grief over the loss of life and hope over lives that had been strengthened. Grief over the Victims' Room. This room has pictures of each victim with a tiny shelf for a memento or two. There were several shelves that held Bibles and Bible verses and/or angels. These were filled with hope. There were others that had golf clubs or Mickey Mouse and one with just an ID card and a credit card as tribute. How sad.

Others had only a picture of the victim and empty shelves. How deeply and incredibly sad that is. We ask each other, “Did these people not have anyone that knew them well enough to give some treasured item?”

I pray that I live my life and order my priorities so that there is no doubt about what is important to me. I pray nothing superficial is left on my shelf. I pray that I do not leave an empty shelf as tribute. I thank God for the rescue workers, the firemen, the policemen, doctors, nurses and every single soldier who is risking his life and limb to protect me and to protect my right to voice my feelings, opinions and beliefs. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! I thank God for our War against Terrorism. I thank God for Gary Siedle who helped bring about a change in federal law so that people like McVey and Nichols will suffer the consequences of their despicable acts
instead of costing us millions in court costs for execution stays and appeals. No more waiting 17 years before execution. That, my friends, is how to change the face of America.

This was pointed out at the end of the tour, that we can make vast changes working within the system, “Not with bombs and fists,” and I wholeheartedly agree.

I urge you to go. I urge you to take your children old enough to understand. You will be glad you did. I advise you to take plenty of Kleenex. You will not leave there the same person who viewed all manner of personal belongings attached to the chain link fence outside the building and then took the elevator up to the third floor.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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