April 19th



I was a senior about to graduate from the University of Oklahoma on April 19, 1995. I had been up all night studying for an exam, and woke up around 1:30 in the afternoon that day. I later remembered being jolted awake earlier in the morning by what I assumed was a sonic boom from Tinker AFB, but quickly went back to sleep. I decided to get in a workout before work and class -- so I hurriedly took a shower, got dressed, and took off in my car without watching TV -- completely unaware of what was going on in the backyard of the world around me. I rarely listen to the radio, and had a mixed cassette on in my car that afternoon. I arrived at Tan and Tone America to the most somber atmosphere I had ever encountered. The TVs were all on continuous news coverage, people were crying, and no one was really concerned with their tan or their figure that day. Ironically, six years later when our nation's next horrific event occurred, I slept through it as well. There are times now when I'm literally afraid to sleep ever again...

A tribute put up by a Catholic church across the street from the memorial [with a] stone wall contains empty recesses, one for each life lost in the bombing. Facing that wall, and turned away from the Murrah building, is a large, white statue of Jesus. His head is in his hands, and a tear marks his cheek. The inscription on the base of the statue says only: 'And Jesus Wept'. [Time]

My kids were five and three at the time. I clung to them fiercely in the weeks after April 19th. I could not comprehend the loss of so many little lives at one time. And it's not that I didn't grieve the loss of the adults as well; but the children...so many helpless, innocent children ripped from their parents in such horrible, brutal manner. It was almost too much to bear.

Yet I stared at the television for days on end. I barely slept, and when I did I only dreamed of crying, dying babies searching for their parents. One night, about a week after the bombing, I dreamed that I had lost my kids in an ocean. I just kept swimming, swimming, calling their names and swimming.

I tried to imagine myself in the place of those parents who lost their little babies that day. I couldn't. I could not, in a million years, imagine what it was like to be them, to see the lifeless bodies of their children carried out of the rubble in the arms of rescuers.

I'm sure that April 19, 2004 may as well be April 19, 1995 for the families who suffered losses at the Murrah Building. I wish them peace.

Time Magazine OKC coverage
Official Oklahoma City Memorial site
National Parks Service OKC memorial site

Charles Hill has more, please read.

19 April 2004
TrackBack (4)


Now you've got me tearing up again.

Posted by Sissy Willis on April 19, 2004 08:50 AM

Today I'm saying a prayer for the families as well.

I have a friend here in our hometown, who lost her parents in the bombing. They were retired, and missing from their home in Oklahoma City for several days. It wasn't until her sister noticed some Social Security paperwork on the kitchen table that they realized their parents must have gone to the Murrah Federal Building that day. It was a number of weeks before it was confirmed.

And then I think about those who lost a family member or a friend in the WTC attack, and the sad fact that no confirmation ever came, other than the knowledge of what must have happened.

Posted by Dave in Texas on April 19, 2004 10:37 AM

Amen. I had just dropped off my first baby at daycare that day, it really hit home for me and still does.

Posted by Busy Mom on April 19, 2004 11:30 AM

I still remember looking out the window at the dark cloud coming from downtown. As bad as that looked, I could never have been prepared for what caused it.

Half of the staff at the TV station where I worked left to get their children out of school once the news reported what actually happened.

Doesn't seem like nine years. I can't get that moment out of my head.

I've linked to some photos and a VR panorama on my site, if you'd like to add them to your list.

Posted by PromoGuy on April 19, 2004 11:57 AM

In a very selfish way, it galls me considerably that April 19, my wedding anniversary, will be forever associated with the OKC bombing. While my wife and I celebrate our life together, the rest of the country is mourning this day of tragedy.

But at least I have something to celebrate, which is more than can be said for the victims and their families. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that Timothy McVeigh is still reaping his eternal reward.

Posted by Curt on April 19, 2004 12:04 PM

9:00... 9/11 also happened at 9:00 (ok, just minutes before.) But if they had planned to do it at 9am they would have been hard pressed to come much closer in time...

Posted by Bruce on April 19, 2004 12:13 PM

I was working in an office a couple of miles away from the Murrah Building at the time of the blast. It was clearly audible to us, but not so loud that we immediately thought anything serious was amiss. My first thought was that something heavy might have been dropped from a truck out in the alley.

As the reality of the situation began to gradually trickle in, I remember stepping outside and seeing the plume of smoke. Shortly thereafter we were sent home for the day (I'm a civil servant and there was uncertainty as to whether other government buildings might be attacked). For the next several days, pretty much everyone in OKC spent much of the time transfixed to the TV, struggling to make sense of what was happening to us.

I remember being proud of the way we responded, as a community, to such a massive, completely unexpected disaster. Several of us from my office went downtown to help serve meals for the rescue workers, but there were more than enough volunteers - I think they only needed us once or twice.

I had been in the Murrah Building several times - a few years earlier I had been in the VISTA program and their office was at that time housed in Murrah (by the time of the attack, they had moved to a different location). Nobody I knew personally was in the building at the time of the blast, but one of those who died was a young woman who was a relative of one of my former co-workers. I'd heard many stories about her over the years and had spoken to her briefly on the phone a few times.

Honestly, I don't think about the bombing all that often. I never had nightmares or anything like that. But it is just something that's always there, tucked away in the back of your mind. None of us who were in OKC that day will ever forget what happened - the good and the bad.

Posted by MikeR on April 19, 2004 12:20 PM

One of the things that gnawed at me when I moved into Oklahoma City from the 'burbs last fall was the fact that I would be that much closer to the Memorial, a place that still breaks me up when I pass by.

But we are nothing if not resilient in Soonerland, and I take comfort in knowing that in the wake of great evil, an occasionally-fractious community united itself to do great good.

Posted by CGHill on April 19, 2004 02:41 PM

When I think about it -- and I do -- it all comes flooding back. But, I'm most like MikeR and Charles. I don't dwell on it; but I have to say that memorial is a treasure. The most overwhelming feelings hit me upon entering the site.

I've said it before -- the babies on the first floor is what will haunt me but the love of the citizens of Oklahoma City is what I WANT to remember.

Thank you, Michele.

Posted by Emma on April 19, 2004 04:08 PM

Let us neither forget the 86 lives lost in the Waco massacre on April 19, 1993. :-(

Posted by Clark on April 19, 2004 08:25 PM

Thank you Michele for remembering OKC today.

Posted by Tina on April 19, 2004 10:36 PM