Paul Jacob

Tomorrow is April 19. For what is this date famous?

That’s easy. April 19 marks the anniversary of “the shot heard ’round the world.”

No, not Bobby Thomson’s 1951 ninth inning pennant-clinching blast against the Dodgers. Think back to long before that. It is the 235th anniversary of a musket ball fired that marked the singular moment in human history when the idea of freedom violently and successfully asserted itself.

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This first exchange of official gunfire between colonists and British Redcoats just outside Lexington, Massachusetts, in 1775, began the Revolutionary War. And the Revolutionary War began the United States of America.

Yet, tomorrow, this glorious anniversary will go largely unnoticed, uncelebrated.

Instead, the focus will be on a more recent and more disturbing day in our history: April 19, 1995. On this date, 15 years ago, Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, murdering 168 innocent men, women, and children.

Don’t get me wrong: The Oklahoma City bombing deserves remembrance, especially with the wounds still fresh, with so many Oklahomans still grieving the loss of loved ones and suffering from lifelong injuries.

I know a good many Sooner State citizens and had the experience of visiting the city a month or so after the bombing. I’ll never forget walking along the fence that had been placed around the site and seeing it completely covered with a tapestry of tokens of love for those killed. I spent quite some time reading many of the thousands of handwritten, heart-wrenching notes placed on that fence.

Let’s never forget the Oklahoma City bombing — neither the one cowardly act of terrorism nor the countless acts of heroism and goodness that followed.

But let’s also never forget the shot heard “round the world.” We can remember both. (Just stop chewing gum.)

When we reflect on the Oklahoma City bombing, let’s do it with respect, sans the political spin. Veiled or not-so-veiled comparisons to current peaceful movements to hold government accountable have no place in intelligent political discourse.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.