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Remembering Waco

I was a preteen when the Branch Davidian compound went up in flames on April 19, 1993. Homeschooled at the time, like many Waco sympathizers I later met in Northeastern Washington, I watched the smoke and fire with thoughts, not just of history in the making, but also prophecy being fulfilled. You know, false christs and all.

The potent mix of true belief, government, apocalypse, sex and guns raised some significant questions about my faith in my leaders and my faith in my faith. Over the next few years, some adults I trusted (not my parents) spun out fascinating anti-government conspiracy theories and some church members predicated a nigh end. Particularly with the Adventist connection to Waco, some meaning had to be made of this tragedy. And in a sense they were right about their theories.

In the end, what happened on this day in 1993 to the followers of David Koresh and the tragedy caused by Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh exactly two years later are actually explained by right-wing conspiracy theories – the ones in both men’s heads.

Here is a video with some archival footage from the Branch Davidian compound, the standoff and the fire. (Warning: some images might be disturbing.) Music: George Michael’s “Praying for Time.”

What do you remember from that day and the aftermath?

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