The OKC marathon is called Run To Remember and it happens in April each year, close to the the date of the Murrah Bombing, the 19th, 1995. Vertical banners, each bearing the name of one of the 169 lives lost in the bombing, line the route. Some of the runners are themselves survivors of that blast. Others run with names of their beloved friend or family member written on their backs "I run in memory of_____". The opening ceremony is very moving to most of us. There are lots of tears and throats thick with emotion. This year Abbey, Able and Kari ran the 5K. No relay this time around. Audra was in St. Louis and Zach was at the Okeene Rattlesnake Hunt with his boys.
In the days, weeks and months following the bombing, millions of dollars were donated to help the families torn apart by the blast. The memorial plaza was built with that money, and the museum. Medical bills were paid for some, funeral expenses, college tuition for some of the children of the deceased. One of the stated reasons for the marathon is to continue that promised aid. It has been a long time now, twenty one years. The marathon was established sixteen years ago.
Every year the media hounds the survivors and the families of the victims. Pressuring them to retell the story, to remember, to make us cry again. You know how the media can press and pry. If you have ever been part of a federally declared emergency, you know that that promised federal money doesn't usually show up, once the cameras are packed away. The millions of dollars donated by caring individuals tends to disappear as well. It's an old, sad song.
The number rolls out every time we remember that day: 169 lives lost beneath the rubble. That isn't accurate, of course. Each of those individuals had a spouse, a mother and father, a son, a brother or sister, children and friends whose lives were also torn to pieces, even though they did not die right then. Family members had mental breakdowns and never recovered. Children were left to fend for themselves and their siblings at too young an age.
Remember the heart wrenching picture that became the symbol of the bombing in OKC, the one of the fireman in all his garb, cradling the lifeless body of that tiny, bloodied girl? Did you know that fireman took his own life a few years after the incident? True story. The next time you weep for that little girl, remember the man as well, and his family, friends and co-workers. The damage was far reaching and continues to this day, as it does with the families of the victims of hate crimes of all stripes worldwide. There are many continuing lawsuits, filed by the families of the victims, trying to get the money they were promised from the monies donated after the incident. I'm fairly sure it has been spent of other things.
Bottom line: if you want to donate money or materials to someone, or to a classroom or a family, you need to walk it over there and make sure it goes where you want it to go. Don't give it to a group who volunteers to "take care of it and see that it gets dispersed". They will disperse it alright. When money is passed from hand, to hand, to hand, it seems to vanish into thin air.