19 April 2005
An April 19 roundup
Some of what's being said about today and what it meant to those who said it.
They murdered 168 good people ten years ago today. And they disrupted the innocence of a fine old town that had nothing to do with the twisted politics of the terrorists. Oklahoma City and those people's lives were nothing but stage dressing in their ugly little fantasy ideology. OKC wasn’t even my hometown, nor a favorite city just a place I had lived near and come to recognize as an outpost of decency and civilization, of faith and honesty and hard work. It was the sort of sprawling all-American flyover town my classmates out on the East Coast didn't have much regard for, but for which I was desperately homesick.
It's incredibly hard to believe that ten years have now passed. Seeing the footage and faces on television makes every raw emotion and nerve come flooding back once more. This wasn't something planned and plotted on foreign soil. This was something we did to ourselves. And it was the first time our midwestern and American innocence was truly shattered in the blink of an eye.
I didn't have kids then, as our first was still four years away, but even then I understood that Oklahoma City was nightmare-inducing for those who did. The day care center was supposed to be a safe haven, a place of comfort during the time the kids had to be separated from the parents. Then on an April morning, it became a place of pain and suffering and death. Four and a half years later, when it was time for our little one to go to a day care center of his own, half a continent away in a place that seemed more secure, I still thought about Oklahoma City, but took comfort that I was in a different place, in a different time. Terrorists could never attack Washington, DC, right?
Sometime that afternoon, rain began to fall. The nearby Civic Center had been transformed into a briefing area for media. It was there I joined other reporters converging upon then-Governor Frank Keating. And it led to a strange epiphany; I had considered myself a cynical and anti-authority contrarian up to that time, but I was almost flat-out ecstatic to see the governor of the state as if it really meant something. For the first time in my life, I understood the impressive calming effect of leadership, and for the first time that day, I almost felt safe.
Ten years ago today at 9:02 am I was sitting in my office in Oklahoma City when I heard an explosion that literally shook my desk. I was on the twelfth floor of a twelve-story building and my first thought was that a boiler had exploded on the roof or possibly a tanker truck had exploded at street level immediately in front of my building. I would have doubted the explosion could have come from a block away and thought it impossible that it had happened four blocks away.
I got up from my desk and walked out of my office where I met a coworker who had just left his office. I had been with the firm for just five weeks and asked my coworker jokingly, "Does this happen often here?" He smiled and responded that it did not.
We had another staff meeting that afternoon. My boss was a little less sure of himself this time. He gave us a less-than-effective pep talk on the purpose of terrorism being disruption, and that we could defeat the plans of the terrorists by continuing to do our jobs and focusing on the work we had to do instead of being distracted by the confusion around us. One of my coworkers wanted to go donate blood. "No, we need you here," was the reply. In truth it would have been a pointless excursion. By Wednesday afternoon, lines of blood donors at the Red Cross were out the door. By that evening, they were turning people away.
Spring in Oklahoma often brings us disasters. On this very date in 1970, the Chikaskia River, after three days of rain, rose three to six feet from its banks and washed away much of the town of Jefferson. In May 1999, tornadoes pushing the limits of the Fujita scale rolled through the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The response is always the same: we take care of business, we mourn, we clean up, and we go on, because well, because that's what we do.
If you have a blog post about the Oklahoma City bombing and its aftermath, feel free to TrackBack to this post.Posted at 11:20 AM to City Scene
TrackBack: 12:31 PM, 19 April 2005
» Lest We Forget from coffeegrounds
Ten years ago today domestic terrorists blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and severely damaged two other buildings, killing 168 people (including 19 children) plus one additional would-be rescuer. 850 people were wounded plus 85 rescuers su......[read more]
TrackBack: 8:36 PM, 19 April 2005
» And Jesus Wept from TulsaTopics
And Jesus wept..... On April 19, 1995, around 9:03 a.m., just after parents dropped their children off at day care at the Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, the worst act of domestic terrorism that this country has......[read more]
TrackBack: 9:54 PM, 19 April 2005
» 10 Years Later from Dan & Angi have something to say
April 19, 1995. I was here - making empanadas in my kitchen for an Intercultural Communication project. KTOK's reporter was on the air immediately after the blast, screaming into the mic because she couldn't hear anything - she had......[read more]
TrackBack: 11:56 PM, 19 April 2005
» Remembering 10 years ago, those we lost and those who were changed forever from BatesLine
Much has been written by those who were in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Rather than try to improve on their work, or even try to meaningfully excerpt it, I'll send you their way. They are all must-reads. Jan, the Happy Homemaker was picked up by a ......[read more]