"The bombing story also featured the publicizing of private emotions, which is now a very big trend in our culture," she added. "We don't grieve in private anymore. We grieve with other grievers, with the bombing victims. We join groups that have suffered the same loss. All of this allows the media to wring the greatest possible emotion from one single event."
Will McVeigh's execution be remembered years from now? Some experts suggest that such events have a remarkably short shelf life with the public, even though they will continue to shadow those people directly affected by the event.
"It's hard to remember many public executions," said Ellen Fitzpatrick, history professor at the University of New Hampshire. "And the ones that linger in our memory aren't like the McVeigh case--they're the cases where you have continuing doubt about guilt or innocence, like the [Nicola] Sacco and [Bartolomeo] Vanzetti matter, or where the issue in the case remains controversial."
McVeigh's guilt is not in question, and few Americans are stirred by the issues that drove him. What's left, Fitzpatrick said, is frustration: "Some people may take a grim satisfaction in this, while others will remain haunted. Either way, it's been a disturbing day for this country."