9:01 am April 19, 1995 began like any other day. My elementary school had just started. I was working on the day’s warm up exercises. My sister had just started a spelling test. My mom and brother were in the living room with the TV on. Dad was out-of-town. No one knew what was going to happen that day.
The bombing changed Oklahoma, changed the face of downtown. My school was over 12 miles away and I can still remembering feeling and hearing the entire school shake. I remember looking up at the ceiling, half expecting one of the tiles to fall down. There was a trophy on my desk for it being neat and that fell off. I did not know what was going on until I came home from school that day. I can vaguely remember the teachers being frazzled as they picked us up from recess. Being seven I thought nothing of it. I was just happy to be back in school, well again after months of fighting off various illnesses.
When I got home I saw some of the kids that we played with often, Amy and Kristina. I asked my mom why they were there and what was that on TV. It was the blond-haired woman with a thick trail of blood running down the side of her face. My mom then explained to me that one of the buildings downtown had been blown up. Immediately I knew this was bad but I couldn’t figure out why. My mother later had to explain to me that some people do not like the United States government. Growing up in the heartland I couldn’t comprehend this until I was a bit older. She didn’t tell me that it was in retribution for Waco, I learned that out on my own.
The bombing happened when I was seven but when my family moved to DFW when I was 13 there was no moments of silence there. I found this to be completely rude because we were still holding them in my schools back in OKC. One girl then had the gall to say that it was an attack against Oklahoma not the US. WRONG! But within a year of me having to explain to her that it was an attack against the US September 11th happened.
Everyone was so shocked by this. The assistant principal of my school said that it was the first attack against American on our soil since Pearl Harbor. She being an adult I didn’t holler back OKC! I did remind her of that and it kind of shut her up. Yes, 9/11 was worse than the OKC Bombing but it is the victims of OKC that have often been looked over.
Victims of 9/11 got some money from the government for their suffering. The people of Oklahoma did not. Any money they received it was from private citizens. Dick Cheney’s company donated money to them, and they never asked or it or for more. Even the parents whose toddlers died on that fateful day. 19 children, around 2 years old died and they are remembered by small marble chairs at the site.
Everyone remembers 9/11 but I think it’s only those who lived and experienced the OKC Bombing and its aftermath that truly remember it. It’s been fifteen years, those children would be graduating high school in May or finishing up their first year of college.
People, we should remember these dates because they shape the United States. Pearl Harbor led us into World War 2 and when we came out of that we were a superpower. 9/11 reminded us that we are not invincible but we won’t stand for such heinous acts of violence. The OKC Bombing should remind us that we suffer from threats on the home front and not just abroad.
If you can read about the survivors of this tragedy, or what the rescue workers went through. Every year on April 19 the images of the bombing run through my mind all day because their pain and suffering should never be forgotten. I can still see a mother holding a framed picture of her two infant boys who died that day. Of the fireman carrying a bloodied child to get him to medical care. The search dogs climbing up the rubble of the Murrah building and I see the smoke of the cars on fire. I can still see the police escorting Timothy McVeigh wearing a bullet proof vest above the orange jumpsuit days after the event.
If you are ever in the Oklahoma City area go by the memorial. The reflecting pool is where a street once was, there are marble and glass chairs for everyone who died that day. The Survivor Tree really is a spectacular sight because it shows the city’s endurance, it survived the blast that could be felt for miles and miles away. Also see the “And Jesus Wept” statue it can move a person to feel for the victims. There’s also a chain link fence where people still put up notes and teddy bears to those lost that day. Don’t forget the day and be grateful you are alive.