Past journalism concerning this topic: Patriots’ Day has always been fun in Boston, in part because of the annual 11 AM start to the Red Sox game. We're fairly sure we remember this outing from 1968.
Having mentioned this fact yesterday, we’ll offer a musing today:
Obviously, we have no idea about the motivation for yesterday’s bombings. But yesterday, as some people assumed that the bombings must have come from a foreign source, we found ourselves wondering about a famous domestic bomber. To wit:
In the past, haven’t some journalists said that Timothy McVeigh had a specific jones about Patriots’ Day, which was being celebrated in Boston yesterday?
The answer is yes, although we aren’t sure how strong the connection was, or if it existed at all. In his book about McVeigh, Richard Serrano made this connection, although he did so very loosely.
This is part of the way the book was reviewed by Reed Massengill in the New York Times:
MASSENGILL (5/17/98): "Waco became McVeigh's obsession," Serrano writes. "And from April 19, 1993, to his own day of destiny exactly two years later, Waco steered his course—it was the specter riding shotgun as he drove back and forth across the country." April 19 was not just the date of what McVeigh referred to as "the Texas massacre," it was also the date that the shots fired at Lexington and Concord signaled the start of the American Revolution, and it was Patriot's Day. On the fake driver's license McVeigh used to rent the Ryder truck for his mission in Oklahoma City, McVeigh listed April 19 as his birthdate. And Serrano reports that on the Ryder truck rental agreement, the time stamp read 4:19.The connection to Waco is obvious. Beyond that, Serrano offered a very soft connection to Patriots’ Day in his book. He suggested, but didn’t assert, that April 19 had a meaning for McVeigh which went beyond Waco and included Patriots’ Day.
His suggestion was very soft. It should have been tightened or dropped.
That said, speculation about a possible connection to Patriots’ Day floated around in news reporting about McVeigh before his trial. According to the Associated Press, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney cited this possible connection in their opening statements at McVeigh’s 1997 trial.
Yesterday was Tax Day and Patriots’ Day. What sorts of connections inspired its bomber? We have no way to know, but suggestions that Patriots’ Day carries a meaning for anti-government folk have been floating around for some time.
Final point: This Sunday, Scripps Howard offered a long report about the rise in arson fires on certain holidays. At the start and at the end, the report mentioned a connection between arson fires and Patriots’ Day/Tax Day.
Below, you see two excerpts. Again, this report concerns fires, not bombings:
HARGROVE (4/14/13): Arsonists in America burn according to a cruel calendar.What motivates people who plant bombs? Presumably, a wide range of things. At some point, we'll likely have a clearer idea concerning yesterday’s bombing.
They set fire to buildings in alarming numbers on holidays such as Independence Day, Halloween and New Year’s Day. But a first-of-its-kind study, conducted by Scripps Howard News Service, indicates that arsonists also favor this week in April.
Scripps studied 71,356 intentionally set building fires reported to the U.S. Fire Administration from 2006 through 2011 and uncovered a surge of arsons committed during the seven days around April 15, the day when many Americans file their federal taxes.
Some fire experts say they are particularly intrigued by the large number of blazes started on April 19, which is also called Patriots’ Day. It marks the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War, the battles of Lexington and Concord, Mass.
But it also happens to be the anniversary both of the 1993 assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, by federal agents and of terrorist Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bloody response by bombing Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and killing 168 men, women and children.
“That date—April 19—does have some resonance with some groups in our population. No question,” said Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which advises insurers about claims for suspicious fires.