This year, April 19th marks several anniversaries of terrible things that have happened in history. Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) to remind the world that when dictators and tyrants are not stopped, the results can have an immeasurable effect. It is marks 17 years since Timothy McVeigh and his co-conspirators blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people including 19 children all under the age of 6, and injuring over 680. It is also the day that, in 1993, the federal government lay siege to a little known cult called the Branch Davidians, and ended up killing over 75 people at the compound, most of whom died in the conflagration that occurred when tear gas was launched into the buildings. The 19th also marks the day when the “Shot heard ‘round the world” happened. It was the beginning of the Revolutionary War, when in 1775 British regulars fought with militiamen at the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
All of these events all have something in common.
The Revolutionary War was fought because George III of the United Kingdom was perceived by the American colonists as a tyrant, with little regard to the wants, needs, and desires of his subjects. The result of the war was the birth of the greatest experiment in human freedom, the United States of America.
The Holocaust was brought about by an unchecked dictator whose sick, twisted mind gave rise to National Socialism (Nationalsozialismus) or the Nazi Party. Hitler needed to blame someone for the plight of the German people after World War I, and laid the blame on the backs of the Jewish people. In his quest to deflect his and his government’s inability to bring about a strong economy and a robust system of enterprise, he came up with the “Final Solution.” The extermination of six million Jews throughout Europe.
The Branch Davidians, or Waco Siege, debacle came about due to an overreaching federal government during the tenure of Bill Clinton. On April 19, 1993 federal agents laid siege to what was ostensibly a cult compound nine miles outside Waco, Texas. The result was scores dead, including children and what is considered by some to be the worst law enforcement action in the history of the United States.
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and two others plotted and blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The devastation was incalculable and the worst terror attack on US soil prior to 9/11. McVeigh and his cohorts, with a sick and twisted mentality, deemed that the federal government needed to be punished for the events at Waco, and on the anniversary of the Waco Siege, detonated a 7,000 pound bomb outside the Murrah Building. This horrid event also took place under the watchful eye of the Clinton administration.
The common denominator in each of these moments in time was a government that was out of control, or had decided to take on so much power for itself, that it could not be checked. The tyranny of George III; the insanity of Adolf Hitler; the overreach of Clinton’s Department of Justice under Janet Reno, and the aftermath of Waco that spawned Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing were all by-products of government left to its own devices.
Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” As we remember today, and all that has occurred in history on April 19, let us not forget that our freedoms come from God and that when we begin to rely on the government to “protect us from ourselves” and to meet our every need we become serfs to the government. That serfdom will lead to fear of our own leaders, and then tyranny will reign in a land where freedom once rang.