Waco, Texas. It is a decent size city in central Texas with Baylor as it's claim to fame. Most Texans alive and lucid in 1993 also know Waco for the siege of the Branch Davidian Compound, Mount Carmel, lying just northeast of the city. It is an unbelievably short drive from the city center but it seems as if you drive for quite some distance. If you bring up the siege in casual conversation, chances are you will quickly find yourself in a debate.
The Branch Davidians are a derivative of sorts from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. An investigation began in 1992 when the Sheriff's Office and ATF became aware of the group possibly stockpiling weapons (plus there had previously been allegations of various forms of abuse against the children). The siege began in February 1993 with the 51 day standoff ending April 19, 1993. It included sleep deprivation, armored vehicles, tear gas, an exchange of gunfire, and ultimately a fire that destroyed the compound. By the end of it all, there were 4 ATF agents and 75 Branch Davidians were dead. Approximately 25 of the Branch Davidians were children.
There is so much more to this story than my abbreviated summary above but including all of the facts would take this from a blog to a book. If you choose to continue researching the siege, you will find multiple variations of the facts. I'll leave it up to you to decide what the facts are for yourself.
Today was my third visit to the property over the last 5 years. You cannot miss the memorial as you enter the property. There is a small building on the right of the memorial identified as the audio-visual center however today it was closed. If you continue towards the back you will a small church that was built next to the swimming pool.......the only thing that remains from the original property. From aerial photos, it appears that the church lies where everything happened almost 25 years ago.
Part of my day included a visit to the cemetery where many of the Branch Davidians are buried (the ones whose remains were not claimed). They are not buried on the property. Instead they are buried in Waco, not far from the compound. The grave sites are surprisingly easy to find although the neighborhood leaves a lot to be desired. You have to walk down a handful of rows but you will soon see many graves with the same year of death, some of them with names, but all with a similar "code" in the lower right corner. Presumably the code is an identifier since they all begin with "MC" and end in a number. My guess is MC is for Mount Carmel.
Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, it is easy to agree that the children were innocent and their young lives tragically taken from them by adults who made some questionable decisions. The Branch Davidians no longer exist as they did a quarter century ago however the church continues as The Branch.
My Experiences on the Property
Each time I have been on the property, I felt as if I was being watched. I was respectful of course so I didn't anticipate any trouble.......but the events that unfolded there so long ago definitely made me think and feel a variety of things each time I was there. My mind filled with images of chaos, fearful people screaming and scrambling for safety, and gunfire and flames erupting. I came home with a pic that has a distortion of some kind however I have not yet determined what it might be or what may have caused it. It was too windy today to event attempt to run audio in the hopes of getting an EVP or two.
It isn't hard to imagine that energies and spirits may remain after the trauma that occurred there. The fear and terror experienced by the Davidians must have left an imprint the property. I can't help but wonder if ghostly activity occurs on the grounds........ghostly apparitions and disembodied screams of those that died in the night. How could it not? Were my feelings paranormal? I don't know but the sensations I experienced there are undoubtedly unique to that place.
I started to make my way home feeling a little bit sad but also grateful. Grateful because I live a blessed life with the ability to research and visit interesting locations and, more importantly, to learn about the fascinating variety of people that live within our communities. No matter what you do, try to remember that you are part of something bigger and I encourage you to learn about that something.
Always remember...........make this beautiful day count!