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"My intention is to provide comfort to Tim McVeigh."
——Los Angeles composer David Woodard
OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBER INSPIRES PRE-FUNERAL TRIBUTE
Undaunted By Poor Judgment, L.A. Composer Prepares "Prequiem" For McVeigh
And now a story from the Department of Bad Ideas.

Los Angeles composer David Woodard announced Wednesday (5/9) his intention of playing his pre-funeral piece, "Ave Atque Vale," for convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh at a vigil to be broadcast over a radio station on his May 16 execution day.

"Ave Atque Vale," which Woodard translates as "Onward Valiant Soldier" but Latin scholars would translate as "Hail And Farewell," was originally written for Dr. Jack Kevorkian, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article. The title at that time was "Farewell To A Saint." But when Kevorkian stopped his hunger strike and agreed to serve his 10-year prison sentence, Woodard put the project on the shelf.

When he decided to retool it for McVeigh, he thought Oklahomans might be offended by calling McVeigh a "Saint," so he changed the name—because "Valiant Soldier" is obviously an inoffensive way to describe McVeigh.

According to Woodard, the 12 1/2 minute "prequiem" tribute is intended to bring comfort to the man was found guilty of the 1995 truck bombing that killed 168 people—including 19 children—at the Alfred P. Murrah federal building.

"I think it will resonate with him. I think it will lift his spirits," Woodard told Reuters on Wednesday. "My intention is to provide comfort to Tim McVeigh."

While Woodard disagrees with McVeigh's actions, he says he finds himself "awed by who he is and his circumstances."

Among many quotes that Woodard will have a hard time living down are these: "I think it is worth my efforts to do something on his behalf because he is such an unusual person. The way in which he has managed himself [after the bombing] is unfathomably mindful and composed, and I feel he deserves some sort of tribute," Woodard said.

But most amazing is Woodard’s comparison of McVeigh to Jesus, who—if memory serves—failed to bomb even a single building.

Woodard calls McVeigh "an amazing, albeit misguided talent" who shares "a messianic quality" with Jesus. He notes that Jesus "was 33 and nearly universally despised at the time of his execution," as McVeigh is now.

Prison officials have already refused Woodard’s request to perform the tribute for McVeigh inside the Terre Haute, IN, jail, as McVeigh is put to death by lethal injection. Woodard will instead play the prequiem during a May 15 vigil at a nearby Catholic Church.

An Indiana college radio station to which McVeigh listens will broadcast the tribute, while television stations may also pick up performance. McVeigh will have radio and television access until one hour before his death, scheduled for 7 a.m.

Woodard has had no contact with the families of those who died in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, and says he means no disrespect or offense to them. "This piece is not related to that [crime]," Woodard said. "It is related to this person who did that horrible deed and his circumstances as they are now."

It certainly seems unlikely, to us here at HITS, that any of the families who lost loved ones in the bombing will confuse Woodard’s "tribute" for an endorsement of McVeigh himself.

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