It's been 20 years since the ATF conducted their raid on the Branch Davidian's Mount Carmel complex. The raid left six Davidians and four ATF agents dead. It began a 51-day standoff that resulted in the federal seige on the compound and fire that killed 76 people including 21 children.
What bothers me most about this, other than the incompetent and deadly action of federal officials who were never properly held accountable, is how we still handle the sitation here in central Texas, even 20 years later.
Take these comments from a really good article in the Waco Trib:
“We’ve gotten a couple of calls about the 20th anniversary, asking if we were planning anything in commemoration,” said Larry Holze, the city of Waco spokesman who was a city councilman during the siege. “My answer is, we have no plans because it did not happen in Waco, and we had no legal responsibility for it.”.
Fine. That's technically true. But our reluctance and fear of being associated with this horrible event have paralyzed us and prevented us from even talking openly and honestly about it. The city of Waco was unfairly associated with David Koresh, religious extremism, cults, child abuse and all kinds of bad stuff. But ignoring it doesn't make it go away. In fact it might lead to more harm because you choose to not have a voice in the matter.
But this bothered me even more:
Likewise, county government leaders have no plans to commemorate the tragedy. In response to an inquiry for this story, the McLennan County Historical Commission briefly discussed last week whether to pursue a historic marker for the site.
“There was no interest whatsoever in that,” commission chairman Van Messirer said. “There was a feeling that it’s one of those things that’s probably best left alone.”
Umm...it happened. It was historic. Deal with it. Again, we have the "just leave it alone" attitude as if that will solve everything.
Historic incidents don't have to be good in nature. I'm not for plopping down historic markers all over the place, but if you're going to have that program then certainly the Mount Carmel standoff qualifies.
Local officials are missing, and have been for 20 years, an opportunity to have a say in how this story is told because they're afraid of being lumped in with a religious, polygamist nutjob who may have been a child molester. They're also ignoring and sweeping under the rug the innocents, including 21 children, who died through no fault of their own. At the very least, those people deserve to not be ignore.