MANASSAS — Last Tuesday Kamille Hoyle brought a poem her father had written about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings to her fifth-grade class at Mullen Elementary School.
She had to dig around for the poem. Her father, Curtis Hoyle didn’t want her to bring that specific poem into school. Maybe because it wasn’t quite fitting for an elementary school classroom, or because he didn’t think the children would understand.
However, no one knew at the time just how fitting it would become.
Shortly after Kamille read the poem “America” to her classmates, the words once again came to life 25 miles away at the Pentagon.
When Hoyle put his thoughts on paper for people halfway across the country in Oklahoma City, the text remains appropriate for colleagues at the Pentagon, where he has worked for the last 14 years.
“I remember the day of the Oklahoma bombings,” Hoyle said. “It was a beautiful day, just like it was a beautiful day last Tuesday — until the tragedies.”
Although Hoyle usually works the second shift as a lead electrician, his daughter Kamille didn’t know whether he had gone in for morning training on Tuesday, as he sometimes does.
“I was scared for Dad,” Kamille said. “I didn’t know if he was there. I didn’t know if he had gone into work early or where he was.”
Despite the continuously busy telephone lines, Kamille was able to get in touch with her father and her family was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The poem has become special to Kamille, as her father’s words illustrate the history of that day.
For Hoyle, however, the poem is not the main reminder. He has been reminded of that day ever since, returning to work Wednesday to show strength and begin to rebuild.
Hoyle said he usually works only 75 feet from where the plane crashed into the building.
He was initially angered. “To know that all of these people died, and for what? I mean, children died. I understand why the Pentagon was a target. But why kill people, and the babies that were in those planes?”
Hoyle explains the attacks by calling the hijackers “thieves in the night.”
“They (the terrorists) strike and then laugh and go away with no emotion to what happens the morning after,” he said. “No emotion. It is crazy, crazy.”
The strength that Americans are feeling is also circulating through the halls of the Pentagon, he said.
“It is surreal seeing it, and being there,” he said. “There are a lot of people, you know, rescue workers that are doing everything they can. But, inside we are trying to keep it as normal as possible. For the most part, we have stopped talking about it, but there of course are some that are taking it really hard. We are just going on every day. We are just trying to get our job done. It is hard to conceive why someone would do that. It takes a lot of hatred.”
As the workers continue recovery efforts, Hoyle said his eyes are drawn to the flag that’s been draped down the side of the massive structure. The symbol of America explains the emotions he now feels, he said.
Although they have not read them, many of Hoyle’s co-workers are aware that he occasionally writes poems, and they asked him if he would write one for last Tuesday’s attacks.
“I think “America” describes the day, but I do want to write about the flag that has been placed over the building,” he said.
He described what the first line of that poem might be: “The flag we love so much is now no more than a scarf for the thousands dead.”
The first line, Hoyle admits, is gruesome, much like the day. But the poem’s ending, like his hope, will be beautiful.
Staff writer Trina Goethals can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 121.