Google and of course Google news were not around fifteen years ago, so news junkies like me had to rely on Bricks-and-Mortar Media, and I always preferred radio for pretty much the same live immediacy we now all take for granted with the all-powerful pervasive Internet.
Driving around doing errands that morning while listening to my favorite station (one I advertised on a lot) WRNX, I hear a breaking news bulletin that apparently something has happened at a Federal building in Oklahoma City--an explosion, but no details.
I had fought at a National 'A' rated Karate tournament there (even got to meet Chuck Norris) about dozen years earlier, and unlike a lot of the major cities I visited while on the national circuit, I found it orderly, attractive and felt extraordinarily safe.
Plus I figured foreign terrorists would pick a much higher profile target like New York or Los Angeles. So the original report about an explosion in front of a building named for somebody I never heard of, was easy to dismiss as just some kids with fireworks.
Done with my errands, the Health Club was particularly busy that day so the next thing I know it's 9:00 PM closing. Turning on my TV at home to whatever channel I had watched the night before, up comes the astonishing video of the Murrah Federal Building building devastated to the core.
The next morning's newspapers all carry that heartbreaking AP front page photo of a rescue worker desperately rushing from the scene cradling a mortally wounded infant.
A Harvard trained attorney friend of mine who always opposed the death penalty changed his mind because of Tim McVeigh: His ice cold comment about the day care center deaths of 19 young children, dismissing them "collateral damage" put him over the top.
"I'll fly out there and voluntarily throw the switch myself," he said angrily.
Turns out they used lethal injection to send Mr. McVeigh to his just rewards. On June 11, 2001 as I lay on a cold gurney at the Amherst Medical Center getting my first shot of cortisone in my arthritic left hip, Dr. Johnson said, "You're going to feel a slight prick." "Yeah," I responded, "the last words Tim McVeigh will hear."
The assisting nurse shuddered saying I was the second patient that day to make reference to what was occurring at the US Penitentiary building in Terre Haute, Indiana.
My doctor said the cortisone shot could be a "magic bullet," and if I'm pain free for three months then it probably did the trick.
That summer I had the best bike training ever (logging over 3,000 miles) for my annual ride up Mt. Washington. On August 25, I posted my best time time ever over ten years (one hour 32 minutes) and as I crossed the finish line 6,288 feet up with my wife not to far behind, I literally felt on top of the world.
I had forgotten the exact date of my cortisone shot and mistakenly thought the three months expired, so I had successfully dodged the surgeons knife.
On the morning of 9/11 (the actual three month anniversary) as I watched those magnificent towers crumble into dust, I couldn't help but notice the unmistakeably dull continuous ache in my left hip had returned...
Ten days later on April 29, 1995 Amherst's annual Town Meeting kicked off.
I had placed an article on the Warrant calling requesting tax exempt Amherst College and Hampshire College pay the same reimbursement rates as Umass for ambulance services--not one of my more controversial articles; but I had previously pissed off the Moderator with speeches over the years about Cherry Hill Golf or lambasting those numerous "Only in Amherst" measures Town Meeting routinely passes.
So when I walked up to his podium from my front center seat immediately before Town Meeting was to start, he gave me a wary look. I requested that Town Meeting start tonight with a standing "moment of silence" to remember the victims of Oklahoma City. He frowned. Said something about opening night, particularly busy, lots to do, etc.
I looked at him dumbfounded and trudged back to my seat.
A few moments later Amherst Town Meeting stood in unison, silently bowed their heads and for a brief moment, remembered.
Fox News: The terrible sounds of silence