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|The site below was placed online in July & August, 1996, and has largely been left in its original form|
|This page is black in memory of the two people who died, and the 110 who were injured by the bombing in Centennial Park in the early morning hours of 7/27/96. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who were injured, and the families of those killed, as well as the law enforcement officials on the trail of the cowardly scum who perpetrated this tragedy.|
| First of all, thanks to all the friends, family, and strangers who
have e-mailed or called to make sure I'm OK. Yes, I am, as I was safe
in bed at 1:20am, but I was headed downtown within minutes of waking up.
The clock radio unexpectedly went off at 6:19am, and my first thought was "oh, man, I was gonna sleep in today". But the first words I heard made me sit bolt upright in bed...."our continuing coverage of last night's bombing in Centennial Park....". I sat there for about ten minutes, rubbing my face to make sure I wasn't having a bad dream, while listening for more details, and realizing that the woman to my right (now living on the left coast) was not going to be happy when I told her I had to go down there.....now
She wasn't, and while I felt like a heel for appearing to ignore her forcefully expressed concerns, I had to go. It's hard to explain something that runs in your blood, like photography. It's what I do. It's who I am. For better or for worse, the core of what I'm doing with this web site, and how I feel about the Olympics, left me no choice but to go.
Say what you want about MARTA, but it is a great place to *read* the general morale and feelings of the Olympic crowd. If nothing else, I expected to find a statement merely in the number of people out and about the morning after. My guess was that at 7:30am the train traffic would be light, and downtown would be empty.
Boy, was I wrong. The train southbound into town was full, and I made a point to watch faces and eyes. Many were somber, and conversation was muted, but I saw no fear, no apprehension. If you looked past the somber face into the eyes, many of them glared with the steely glint of old-fashioned American determination, and what I readily recognized as something I'd seen a lot in my 37 years.....Southern Defiance. We are a proud and strong people, and when we feel we've been wronged, or are slapped down by a stroke of fate (or lunacy), we rise to the occasion. On that train, you could literally see the realization that we cannot, and will not, allow some sad excuse for a human to de-rail our dreams....our lives.
everyone else seemed to be headed to events, I got off at the Civic
Center station and walked towards Centennial Park. It wasn't long before
you saw the increased police presence, noticed lots of military reinforcements,
and came up to a yellow tape line with the unfortunate words "Crime
Near the Apparel Mart, I encountered Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, speaking with 4 or 5 members of the international press. While he said all the right things, and nothing unexpected, he had that steely look in his eye, too. I saw it in a lot of people, and it was the overwhelming impression I got from my trip. We will not be defeated by this coward, this psychotic waste of skin. The only silver lining in this dark cloud.
Actually, there is another. News reports indicate that the first security officers brought over the bomb squad, and their small number began moving the big crowd. They were in the process of clearing the area, and had backed the crowd up about 50 feet (quite an accomplishment in the crush that is Centennial Park at night) when the bomb exploded. If not for officers like Tom Davis, with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the death toll and casualties would have been much greater. He was probably closer to the bomb when it exploded than anybody, and was hit by shrapnel. However, his credentials in his back pocket kept the shrapnel from, in Agent Davis' words, "penetrating mah butt." The man is a true hero, the genuine article, and obviously a Bonafide Southerner, to boot.
The problem is not a lack of security. The possibility of terrorism at the Olympics is something I've thought about for a long time, since I was a 13 year old glued to the news reports coming out of Munich. This is the price we pay for living in a free society. We are sometimes vulnerable to lunatics, because we refuse to allow a police state to rule us. The incredible benefits of our free society far outweigh the fact that it also presents hideous opportunities for monstrous deeds.
The folks who caught the Trade Center bombers, and Timothy McVeigh, are now hot on the trail of the culprit(s). While we can only hope that they are bought to justice, we can be certain they will be judged, in the end.
It's not a very forgiving Christian attitude, but I hope they burn in hell....in an Olympic Cauldron.
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All text & images at this web site are ©1996-2001 Reid Stott, and may not be reproduced in any way without permission.