A national tragedy

On Wednesday, the echoes of a bomb not only reverberated through the streets of Oklahoma City, but on the streets of every town across the United States. The Oklahoma City bombing violated America's heartland and has left immeasurable misery in its wake. Seventy-eight dead. One hundred and fifty unaccounted for. More than 400 people hurt.

The Oklahoma City tragedy is truly senseless. It would be futile to attempt to understand what led the bomber(s) to do what they did. Rather, it is time to mourn our losses and hope that the injured have speedy recoveries. It is time to put stories behind the names on the victim's lists and realize that they could be anyone from our grandparents to the children who play in the yard next door.

Just like Colton and Chase Smith.

At 2 and 3 years old, the Smith brothers wanted to be together all the time, their mother said. "They loved each other. They didn't want to go anywhere without the other," said Edye Smith, 23. The boys died together in the bombing, shortly after Ms. Smith dropped them off at the federal building.

Just like Ashley Eackles.

Ashley, 4, was at the federal building with her grandparents, Luther and LaRue Treanor. Luther Treanor was at the Social Security office to get paperwork in order for his retirement. Ashley was killed in the blast; the Treanors were missing, but their son Ashley's stepfather Mike Treanor, feared the worst. "If they found Ashley, my mom and dad are nearby. Mom wouldn't leave her," he said.

Just like Pamela Argo.

Working two jobs as a hospital administrator and for a catering company didn't put a damper on Argo's cheerful disposition and love of life. Friends say she used her paychecks to pay for her small brick house and spent many weekends working on the house. Argo, 36, was at the federal building for an appointment in the Social Security offices when the bomb exploded.

Just like Mickey Maroney.

At 50, Mr. Maroney had spent nearly half of his life 24 years working for the government. Maroney was at work when the blast hit. Maroney, born in Wichita Falls, Texas, played defensive end for the Razorbacks when the University of Arkansas won the national championship in 1964.

Just like Zackary Chavez.

Zackary, 3, had attended America's Kids day-care center since infancy. His grandfather remembered giving him quarters. "When you would give him a quarter, he would always take it to his mom," Cereaco Hernandez said.

Just like Dolores M. Stratton.

Mrs. Stratton was at work as a military personnel clerk when the blast killed her. Stratton, 51, is survived by her husband, Charles, two children and three grandchildren.

Just like Robert Westberry.

Mr. Westberry, 57, was special agent-in-charge of Defense Investigative Service on the third floor of the devastated building. "We just have to remember the last time we saw him and the pictures we have on our refrigerators and our last conversation," said daughter Sue Riley of West Columbia, S.C.

Just like Elijah and Aaron Coverdale.

Elijah, 2, and his brother, Aaron, 5, attended the day-care center for two years. The boys lived with their grandmother, Jannie Coverdale, because their father is a trucker who travels. Jannie Coverdale refused to give up hope that the boys might he alive. "I need my babies, I need them . they were my life," she said.

May the victims of the bombing rest in peace and may justice be served.

(Information provided by the Associated Press.)

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