We drove down a quiet country road, trees and green meadows in every direction. Mount Carmel, the famous Branch Davidian compound and church, was a sharp turn to the right. Gone was the mailbox at the entrance with Branch Davidian Church clearly written on it in big black letters where the once 100-plus residents of a devout break-off of the Seventh-day Adventist Church received their mail.
Once on the grounds, we were met with two simple memorials, each telling us that something very significant and violent had happened here -- one to the four ATF agents killed in the February 28 government raid. A few feet away was a shrine of sorts with a name on a plaque for each of the 76 Davidians (19 men, 34 women, 23 children) who lost their lives in the fiery furnace in their place of residence 25 years ago on April 19, 1993. Sympathetic visitors had left money on one of the shrines.
A gravel road, less than a fourth of a mile long, lay in front with a couple of buildings to the right. The second of which was the home of the only actual Branch Davidian, a part of the group now available, disaffected at the time of the raid, but now the minister of the sect now renamed The Branch. The road wound down, curving to the left and ending in front of a newly built chapel placed on the exact same corner as once stood the chapel part of the Branch Davidian structure -- the double-entrance door precisely placed where the original double doors once were.
Davidians argued that bullet holes in them came from outside, and ATF agents that they came from inside. This would prove the origins of the assault, but the doors have disappeared. The famous structure was gone but cement foundation remnants were still clearly visible.
It was hard to imagine Abram tanks encircling the building -- running over trikes and bikes of the children and destroying all in their path -- where now a freshly planted garden exists. Is this the place where military helicopters at one time sprayed bullets into a church-home? Dick De Guerin, David Koresh's lawyer, who spent 30 hours in the compound during the 51-day seige, told Dianne Sawyer of ABC News, of bullet holes in the ceiling -- one presumably wounding David Koresh himself (Harold Pease, "The Waco Massacre: We Did It For The Children," video, 1994)
Was this really the site of loud music being played at night, presumably to frighten the residents, sometimes accompanied with sounds of squealing rabbits being slaughtered? Most chilling was probably the lyrics of Nancy Sinatra's song frequently played, "These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do. One of these days, these boots are gonna walk all over you." And, "You keep playin' where you shouldn't be playin' and you keep thinkin' that you'll never get burnt. Ah, I've just found me a brand new box of matches, yeah, and what he knows you ain't had time to learn." Really?
A congressional investigation identified incendiary devices on the property, suggesting the government started the fire, not the Davidians as the government and their complacent media asserted. With winds blowing through the structure, all life was destroyed within 20 minutes, including the little children. Yet today, only Branch Davidians have served jail sentences (Waco: Rules of Engagement, Congressional Investigation, video, 1997). At the trial of survivors, many felt the wrong people were on trial.
Was this really the place where deadly CS gas was pumped into the complex for two hours? The vast majority breathing the poisonous gas were mothers and children. It hardly seemed possible. Now birds chirp away and the grassy meadow gives the place exquisite serenity.
Is this the place where FBI snipers were shooting Branch Davidians as they tried to escape a certain fiery death, presumably to burn and erase all evidence of their blunderous, even unlawful, conduct, as alleged? In the dining room of the Davidian complex, at least 17 bodies had bullet holes in them. Subsequently, empty cartridge shells have been found in one of the three sniper positions now known to exist in the back of the complex. Is this the place where many of the children were taken into the church's cement record vault room (referred to as the bunker) to escape the fire, which new evidence reveals was penetrated from above by a military explosive device, probably immediately killing the mothers and children huddled together inside (Video, "Waco: A New Revelation," 2011)?
A new Branch member, serving a caretaker role over the property, told me of federal agents returning to the scene asking forgiveness. One sorrowful agent admitted to having assisted the snipers with a telescope. The caretaker ended saying, "There will be others."
Video coverage shows tanks with mounted U.S. flags attacking citizens also flying a U.S. flag in front of their burning church-home. How is this possible? Shown also are helicopters with mounted machine guns and the use of Delta Force personnel on the property. How can anyone believe this happened in America in direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act forbidding the military any function in law enforcement? Yet the evidence is overwhelming that it did in this now quiet, serene and beautifully "meadowed" environment with birds chirping the sounds of peace 25 years later?
Harold W. Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for more than 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Editorial on 05/23/2018