Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where were you on April 19?

Here in Oklahoma, you get this question a lot. Because life changed on April 19. Domestic terrorism struck Oklahoma City and made people feel unsafe in their own backyards. Timothy McVeigh drove a truck bomb in front of the Murrah building and let it explode killing 168 people. I didn't know anyone personally who was killed or injured but I did know a couple of people who had relatives killed. One was one of the babies in the daycare.

I remember hearing about it on the radio at work. People thought it was a gas explosion at first. Then the news helicopters flew over and people knew it was worse. One of the women I worked with had a sister who worked in a building near there and told her of the explosion. She wasn't hurt but was trying to get out of the area. I remember trying to track down Dan. At the time, I had no idea where the Murrah building was, just downtown OKC. I knew he had no reason to be there, but I didn't hear from him for at least two hours. He had Whitney with him and of course my mind went crazy. We didn't have any tv's at work so we couldn't see how bad it was.

Then I got home after work and watched the news. And couldn't look away. I stayed up for hours hoping that they would find more people alive. I woke up about 4am to hear about this person I went to college with who was looking for his baby (he died). My heart hurt for him.

The next few days a lot of work didn't get done. I think the whole state was numb. But the great thing about Oklahomans was the amount of help that came from people. Small amounts of help, food donations, cots, doggie booties, the list went on and on. And still we waited to hear about someone that they found alive. Unfortunately that didn't happen.

We went downtown before they took the building down all the way. The fences were up a few blocks away but as you walked closer you could see all the windows blown out of the buildings. You could feel the eery quietness of people. And then you got to the point where you could see the building. We took Whitney eventhough she was too young to understand because we felt it was one of those moments that you had to experience. We took pictures. And still seeing it in person, it was unbelievable. There were things blowing in the wind. A sense of sadness overtook us. I have the pictures somewhere but it is very painful to even think of looking at them.

A few years later I took graduate classes not too far from the site. They were building a beautiful memorial and I happened to have class the day it opened. So that night I went there. I had my camera. I took pictures, such moving scenes as the chairs covered in flowers and items. And I cried. I still cry when I go there. I can't go through the museum because it hurts too bad. Even thinking about it now makes me tear up. The memorial has an empty chair for each victim. They are in rows for which floor they died on. And they have little chairs for the victims from the daycare.

Just a few years later the World Trade Centers came down from terrorism. That was terrible. But the Oklahoma City bombing was closer to home, just 30 miles north of my home. To me this will be the one that upsets me the most.


  1. By the time I got back to Oklahoma, it was just cleared space and a fence, but I stood there and cried, anyway. Sometimes visitors from out of town will ask about going to the memorial, and I always tell them, "I'll take you if you want to go, but just be warned that I'll cry. I'll cry the whole time I'm there." Heh -- nobody ever wants to do it after that.

  2. Thank you for this reminder. And thank you for getting the humor of the indoor tent!! ;-)