Speer: A week with tragedy through the years

Among the first things I did Friday was send my oldest son birthday greetings.

After that, I hammered out this column.

In his birthday email I shared with him that here we are, in another birthday week, with yet more horrific tragedies. Because of his birthday, I’m sensitive to the evil that surrounds mid-April. I dare say if ever you wanted to avoid a week, this would probably be it.

Prior to this week, here’s a synopsis of the horrific events.

April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech massacre leaves 32 teachers and students dead on campus.

April 18, 1906 – San Francisco is struck by an earthquake killing 567, leaving 300,000 homeless. The quake damaged and destroyed most of the buildings in the city.

April 18, 1983 – A suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 63.

April 19, 1986 – The U.S. attacks Libya over escalating tensions in the region and concerns about terrorism.

April 19, 1993 – After a 51-day standoff in Waco, fire breaks out at the Branch Davidian complex. Eighty-one people die in the fire. To this day conspiracy theorists speculate as to what happened there.

April 19, 1995 – The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City is bombed, killing 168.

April 20, 1999 – Students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 12 students and teacher, then turn guns on themselves at Colorado’s Columbine High School.

Sadly, we now can add April 15 and April 17 , 2013, to this long list with the Boston Marathon bombing Monday and the West, Texas fertilizer explosion Wednesday.

At week’s end both stories were in the news as a police officer and one of the bombing suspects from the Boston bombing was killed in a shootout with police while a massive manhunt for the second suspect shut down most of Boston.

Also Friday, authorities in Texas said they found the bodies of 12 people killed in the fertilizer explosion. Over 200 people were injured in the explosion that registered the size of a small earthquake.

When Jeremy turned three I wrote a column that, later that year, would take first place in column writing in the state of Ohio. It began: “Three candles burned quietly on a little boy’s birthday cake. Meanwhile, it rained fire in Tripoli.” Later in the column I wrote “Inwardly I pray that this little boy lying beside me may never know the fear of war, that somehow his generation will be spared the consequences of a world gone haywire.”

Sadly, I think as I write this Friday, that has not been the case. If anything the world has grown more unstable, more depressing.

Yet I remain eternally hopeful and optimistic that good still can conquer evil.

As my son turned 30 I wrote this to him Friday: “May you be the person, through your communication skills, to alter the course of April 19 global events, and instead of tragedy, may you institute triumph; instead of despair, hope; and instead of hate, love.”

I pray that it be so.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS?(Bill Speer) at www.thealpenanews.com.