ture of each Davidian killed in the 1993rnfire. A granite monument, ereeted byrnthe Northeast Texas Regular Militia ofrnTexarkana, Texas, reads: “On Februaryrn28, 1993, a church and its membersrnknown as Branch Davidians came underrnattack bv ATF and FBI agents. For fiftyonerndays the Davidians and their leader,rnDavid Koresh, stood proudly. On Aprilrn19,1993, the Davidians and their churchrnwere burned to the ground. Eighty-twornpeople perished during the siege, eighteenrnwere children ten years old orrnyounger.”rnernWe walk among the crosses, noting arnfew names here and there. Cross numberrnten is Shari Elayna Doyle, age 18, arnpretty, smiling gid with long blonde hair.rnShe looks no different from most of myrnteenaged sons’ female classmates. Numberrn14 is Dayland Lord Gent, age three.rnThree children play Ring Around thernRosy and smile at the camera. Daylandrnmust be the little guy in the middle.rnRachel Sylvia, age 13, is number 78. Herrndark hair is held back by a headband andrnher smile is wide but a bit shy. She isrnholding what appears to be a book or arnpackage. Next to her is Lorraine Sylvia,rnage 40, obviously Rachel’s mom. She isrna youthful-looking, attractive woman,rnbalancing a toddler on her hip. ChicarnJones, number 33, was only one and arnhalf years old. There is no picture, so werndo not know if Chica was a boy or a girl.rnWe search in vain for a cross dedicated tornDavid Koresh. Possibly it is one of thernunmarked ones—no doubt souvenirrnhunters would rip off a picture as soon asrnit was put there.rnAcross the road are ruins of the buildings,rnpiles of dirt and rubble with sunflowersrngrowing everywhere, riotouslyrnand incongruously. On the remains of arnconcrete slab is a tunnel entrance, outlinedrnwith weathered wood like an oldrnmine shaft. Remembering the maze ofrnsubterranean paths hollowed out by thernDavidians, wc peer down into the openingrnbut sec only fetid water with bitsrnof trash floating on it. Beyond is a ruinedrnswimming pool, insects skimming thernsurface of its dirty, greenish water.rnCharred bits of wood are lying in the waterrnalong with a partially submergedrnremnant of a building. We hear a loudrnplopping noise but turn our heads toornlate to see something dive under the water.rnI begin to think uneasily of snakes.rnWe continue to follow the weedy pathrnand with every step, large crickets andrngrasshoppers fly up from the grass, occasionallyrnbrushing our faces and arms.rnWc glimpse pieces of yellow metal stickingrnout of the dry, cracked ground. Is itrnpossible that this is the infamous buriedrnbus? A wrecked and rusty motorcycle, itsrndetached seat lying nearby, rests nearrnaxles with their huge tires still attached.rnWhere did all this junk come from? ByrnAmo Roden’s own account, FBI agentsrnliterally sifted the ground and took awa}’rnanything too large to fit through a meshrnscreen. It is tempting to think that, inrntheir zeal to turn the area into a memorialrnpark cum tourist attraction, Mrs.rnRoden and her friends placed the itemsrnhere in order to heighten the pathos. Butrnit’s a minor point; with or without thernjunk, Mount Carmel is an evocativernplace. We stand on another concreternslab and gaze out across the pond towardrnthe road, imagining dozens of reporters,rncameras fixed and microphones ready,rnanxious to catch the latest titillating bitrnof “news” to feed to the American publie.rnOther tourists have ventured into thernruins, but none have lingered as long asrnwe, and I find myself becoming anxiousrnto get away from this oppressive placernwith its almost palpably evil vibrations. Irnlook in the direction of our rented carrnand long to return to the homogeneousrnand normal world of the interstate, tornCracker Barrels and convenience stores.rnWe retrace our steps, past the altar andrnthe monument and the 82 white crosses,rnback to the Loud Cry Museum for onernlast chat with Amo Roden. In responsernto our questions, she tells us that shernwants to rebuild a barn on the other sidernof the ruins and dedicate it as a chapel.rnShe hopes to receive the funds from arnwoman in Wisconsin. Mrs. Roden believesrnthat although all the bodies werernremoved after the fire, some did notrnmake it to the coroner’s office and werernsimply buried at the site. She plans tornleave the ruin just as it is. She likes livingrnhere and enjoys meeting visitors and answeringrntheir questions. After purchasingrnsome of her literature, we say goodbyernand she returns to her shanty of an officernto wait for the next pilgrims.rnIn the peace and comfort of the car.rnwe trade impressions. “Cultish” andrn”strange” spring to mind when describingrnthe Davidian mindset. If Amo Rodenrnis any example, these aren’t exactlyrnthe kind of folks you would like to seernmove in next door. Their religious beliefsrnare nutty, their standards of moralityrnare disturbing, and their ideas aboutrnarchitecture are bizarre.rnBut, wait a minute, aren’t the Clintonsrnand their crowd always blathering onrnabout how we should all “celebrate diversity”?rnAren’t we lectured constantlyrnabout tolerance and understanding and,rnhey people, can’t we all just get along?rnHave we stumbled on Bill and Janet’srndirty little secret here? The Branch Davidiansrnmay not have been murdered byrntheir own government, but even if theyrnwere, you don’t really have to care. Yourncertainly don’t need to worry about arncreep like David Koresh, an alleged childrnabuser and weapons violator who gotrnwhat was coming to him, and, well, it’srntoo bad that all those other people hadrnto get it too.rnWaco is disturbing. It is disturbing becausernpeople died there under mysteriousrncircumstances and because some ofrnthese people were children and becausernour own government may have deliberatelyrnkilled them. Walking aroundrnMount Carmel forces even the most casualrnvisitor to deal with his or her attitudesrnabout these people who, for whateverrnreason, chose to throw in their lotrnwith Koresh. Standing on the ground ofrnthe ruined compound, imagining men,rnwomen, and children going about theirrndaily lives (never mind our judgment ofrnthe quality of that life), compels us torncome to grips with how we really feelrnabout our fellow citizens who choose tornlive outside the mainstream. Maybe thernfact that they are on the fringe is not arnreason to kill them, but it’s a goodrnenough reason to forget them.rnOnce again we are speeding north onrnthe interstate, becoming absorbed in therncares and concerns of our own lives. Butrnbefore we can put the Branch Davidiansrnand their grisly end out of our minds, therneight-year-old in the back seat goesrnstraight to the heart of this matter of thernright and proper function of government.rn”If there was a fire there,” he asks,rn”why didn’t the fire trucks come and putrnit out and rescue those people?” Whyrnnot, indeed?rnMtjrv Alice Cook writes from Eagle River,rnAlaska.rn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn