Oklahoma Tornado, Oklahoma Spirit

Reader Contribution by Rhonda Shephard
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I generally write on the humorous aspects of country living, but this time, I write about my state, and the things that make it a special place.  We once again are recovering from a tragic natural disaster that collided across our landscape, and left behind an unbelievable landscape of destroyed homes, demolished business, and devastated schools.  We lost friends, family, and loved ones, but we will survive, because of that undefinable quality we as a state own: Oklahoma Spirit.

Oklahoma frequently is the joke of the country cousin or rural rube.  When your identity is defined for generations as dust covered, hollowed cheeked vagrants struggling for the land of milk and honey in California you are behind the eight ball. We are defined by three commonalities:  the Oklahoma land run, the Murrough bombing, and tornadoes.  Our uniqueness and our tragedy melded and molded us into a people strong and tempered by wind, dirt, and death. We accept with stoic knowledge that’s our Oklahoma spirit.

That’s why I stand so amazed at national newscasters surprised in Oklahoma we stand capable, prepared, and ready.  When others ran from the twisting menace, we ran toward them to save our loved ones. When the danger past, Oklahomans dug and clawed with their bare hands to find neighbors.  We live in Tornado Alley the mythical place where war and cold air masses meeting to birth capricious weather.  The seasons are repetitious, the winds never change, except direction, but we accept that the only thing that stands between nature and our own lives is our Oklahoma Spirit.

Oklahoma is sometimes condescendingly called the heartland.  From my Oklahoma perspective that doesn’t mean we are stuck in the middle of nowhere or lie at the buckle of the Bible belt, our heart, shaped by our pain made us resilient.  The people struggling to survive the Depression and stayed behind built our character.  Small towns almost wiped out of existence by twisting winds, returned to shine brighter When the building fell and evil incarnate called our slaughtered children collateral damage, we survived, thrived, and brought honor to those we lost.   I read once that in Oklahoma a tornado will touch down in every quarter-section of land.  So for an Oklahoman it’s not a matter of if, but when they come face to face with a tornado.  We will face another EF-5 tornado.  We will lose our citizens, family, and children, but we will be ready because of our Oklahoma spirit to honor them, and continue being strong in Oklahoma.


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