By Holland Vandennieuwenhof

The documentary A Noble Lie: Oklahoma City 1995 was released in December of 2011, the culmination of sixteen years of active resistance to the official story of the Oklahoma City bombing. The filmmakers dedicated two years of their lives to production, pouring every spare hour and spare dollar into making sure that the truth tellers’ story was told. If anything, A Noble Lie is a testament to the strength of the truth, the weakness of the lie and the will of whatever forces govern this plane to see evil exposed. But that was nothing compared to the long years in the wilderness the truth seekers faced from day one. We were just privileged to tell their story. As for justice, well that is an ideal we can strive for, and should. But the very fact that these atrocities occur tells us that justice is fickle, elusive and pinned down perhaps only by whatever the next world holds for us.

And with that we note with honor the recent death of V.Z. Lawton, a survivor of the bombing and a man who resisted the herd impulse to ignore his own eyes and ears in the face of authority. V.Z., 81 years old, passed away on July 23, 2012 after succumbing to cancer. Few men can say that they have been truly tested. Fewer still can say that they prevailed. V.Z. did both many times, and cracked jokes in-between.

V.Z. faced his mortality with a determination and hope that still shone from his eyes, and with a lack of fear that defined his presence on this earth. He had confronted death before. On April 19, 1995, seventeen years ago, V.Z. was sitting at his desk in the office of Housing and Urban Development in the A.P. Murrah Federal Building when the structure began to shake, the lights went out and something fell from the ceiling fell and struck him in the head, knocking him out cold. When he regained consciousness, he saw that the floor had collapsed to within inches of his desk. He stood over the stilled maelstrom below, half the building lie in ruins, crushed bodies beneath. He turned around and immediately went to the aid of his injured co-workers. He guided, carried and led them down several flights of stairs and busted open a warped steel door with his shoulder. After getting checked out at the hospital, he began walking home. He picked glass out of his body for months.

He had been lucky, and knew it. He lost dozens of friends, and spent the next several weeks, like much of Oklahoma City, attending funerals. The bombing was blamed on Tim McVeigh, the tool of destruction a truck bomb parked in the street. As this narrative acquired momentum from the FBI, V.Z. compared it to his own. He had been in the building. He felt the building shake. When the lights went out, he could still see because of the sunlight coming through the windows. The intact windows. That did not square with the official story. It had been several seconds between the building shaking, the lights going out and VZ being knocked out. Before the windows shattered. Of course the official story being correct and true, the first indication that hell was being unleashed upon the Murrah building should have been the windows shattering. The FBI was putting the cart before the horse. V.Z. now knew he was being lied to. And you don’t lie to V.Z. He could take the truth, as he proved time and time again.

Likewise, Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key began to heed the questions of his constituents who had similar questions. Key had lost his former secretary in the bombing, and her family made him promise to honor the loss of their loved one with the truth. As Charles Key began to make headlines with questions and evidence that pointed to a cover-up, V.Z. expressed a healthy skepticism of these notions, politicians being what they were. But as it became clear that the government at every level was sticking to an unreal hypothesis, V.Z. met with the upstart legislator. Rep. Key must have passed muster, for they agreed to join efforts, and the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee (OKBIC) was born.

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