Today, April 19, marks the thirtieth anniversary of the fire at Mount Carmel that killed 82 Branch Davidians, 25 of whom were children, and two of which were pregnant women. Only 9 individuals survived the fire. The Branch Davidians were a religious group in Waco, Texas.
The fire ended a 51-day standoff between the Branch Davidians and federal agents. For so many years, the government claimed that the fire was set by the Branch Davidians as a mass suicide – but this was simply not the case. So many things went wrong during the siege, but it was when the federal agents finally attacked the Branch Davidians’ church by pumping tear gas into the structure that things escalated. The tear gas was extremely flammable, and caused a fire that consumed the entire structure and the majority of the lives within it.
Despite it being 30 years later, people are still conflicted on what really happened during the 51-day siege and its tragic end. However, the survivors of the massacre are who we can count on for the truth. David Thibodeau, who wrote the book that inspired the Parmount Network limited series Waco, is a frequent advocate for the truth, and who I had the pleasure of sitting down with back in 2020 to discuss Waco and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as George Floyd.
My interview with David Thibodeau can be viewed here
David also runs the website wacosurvivors.com, which is a platform for the survivors of the massacre to share their stories about what happened. You can also order a signed copy of David’s book from this website.
Two years ago, I also attended the annual memorial that David puts on to remember the lives of those who were lost at Waco. It was during this time that I was able to speak to a few of the survivors about how the massacre has impacted them in terms of PTSD. The amount of trauma that the survivors suffered is horrifying, and it is so important that we acknowledge their pain and how many of their family members and loved ones they lost during the massacre.
My article about the memorial and survivor PTSD can be viewed here
If you would like to learn more about Waco, I highly suggest the following resources:
- A Journey to Waco by Clive Doyle (Book)
- Waco: A Survivor’s Story by David Thibodeau (Book)
- Waco Survivors (Website)
Trauma does not discriminate, and it can deeply impact how we are able to function and live our lives for years – if not the rest of our lives. If you are struggling with trauma of any kind, I highly recommend checking out the PTSD Alliance. You are not alone.