April 19, 2010

Remembering Oklahoma City – 15 years later and I will never forget


As with so many of the generation before me who remember where they were, what they were doing, ‘the moment’ when President Kennedy was shot, I too have indelible memories of US History etched into my memory. I remember the attempted assassination of President Reagan. The plume of smoke trailing in the sky moments after the Space Shuttle Challenger blasted from its launching pad. The fire that killed innocent children at the Branch Davidian compound. Of course, September 11, 2001 and the fear that I lost my husband will never be erased. These will forever be part of me and my generation.

Before there was September 11, 2001 there was April 19, 1995. That Wednesday will hold a very important place within me forever. I was getting ready to head out the door for class. I was in law school at the University of Oklahoma. The weather wasn’t out of the ordinary. Just your typical spring day. But shortly after 9:00 am, as I was packing up my books for the day I felt what seemed like a small earthquake. Just a little bit of shaking for a few seconds.

This is Norman, Oklahoma though. Tornado country. We don’t do earthquakes. I’d been in earthquakes before, having grown up in California. And it didn’t really seem like an earthquake but it was rumbly. Definitely, it was not a tornado. Experienced those too, and this rumbly, shaky feeling wasn’t what you feel with a tornado.

My husband lived in Phoenix as I was finishing up law school. He was already at work and I called to let him know that something weird happened and it seemed like an earthquake. This was long before the 24/7 news cycle became the norm. Actually, I think this might have been its beginning. There was no internet to call up at his office. No Twitter or texting. Word of Mouth and phone calls. We relied on the old land line phones to connect us to the rest of America.

That call shortly after 9am was one of the last call I’d make to him for about a week. He knew, before the world knew, that Oklahoma City had been hit by a bomb. He knew that several of my classmates were in the building at the time of the blast. And he knew that I was safe.

It was kind of creepy walking in to class. On the doors were handwritten signs not to drive down to OKC. These were for the students who had jobs downtown, and there was so much commotion there that we were told to stay put. The mood was heavy, because we weren’t able to account for all our friends. Cell phones were not yet the appendage they have become today.

Within about 24 hours every news outlet had descended upon Oklahoma City and its surrounding towns. The entier state was in mourning. The country was in shock. Our view of terrorism would forever change.

Our view of hope and prosperity and kindness and love would forever change, too. American would stand strong in the face of its own rising up against it in hate.

Oklahoma City had been bombed and I will Never Forget!


{ 1 comment }

Diane Prouty April 19, 2010 at 1:57 pm

I live in Cairo, Egypt where I work on a US govt contract with the Ministry of Education. Every time I go to the place run by the US govt to buy things unavailable here I have to go through steel gates that form an enclosed barrier where they check the vehicle for all manner of explosives and bombs. I am continually–painfully–reminded of what a horrible world we live in today. All of us are lucky we haven’t met up with any of these folks who will go to all lengths to use terror to achieve their ends. Thanks for reminding us we need to work harder at finding the path to peace.

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