Flashback Friday: April 19th, 1995 9:02 am
If you can tell me what happened on this date, then kudos to you. To me, it’s a day I won’t ever forget.
April 19th, 1995 started out like any other day to me. I was a 4th grader. I remember sitting class doing Math when I heard a loud noise and felt a shake. My mom thought that a car ran into our house. All of us students were pretty curious as to what happened. We looked outside the window and saw smoke out in the distance. Our teacher told us she thought it was a Sonic Boom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a Sonic Boom. It was an act of terror in Oklahoma City.
The rest of the day is more of a blur. We all went into another classroom, a room that had a TV and we were plugged to the news. School officials came and led a boy out of the classroom because his mother worked in that building and they weren’t sure how she was. It was horrible. We didn’t even fully understand the extent as to what went on.
For those of you who don’t know much about that day, I’ll give you a small History lesson.
At 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, a Ryder truck (filled with roughly 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) of ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertilizer, and nitromethane, a highly volatile motor-racing fuel-a mixture also known as Kinepak or ANFO (ammonium nitrate/fuel oil) exploded in the street in front of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building. The explosion is so powerful that it is almost impossible to imagine. Instantly, cars parked in the vicinity are crumpled, incinerated, flipped about like burning, broken toys. The 250-pound rear axle of the Ryder truck rockets through the air, landing farther than a city block away. Every building within 16 blocks is damaged in some way as the shock wave ripples through downtown Oklahoma City; distant windows blow inwards, spraying insiders with glass shards. Car alarms are shrieking for miles. The Murrah building takes the brunt of the force — the equivalent of three tons of dynamite (the truck bomb was a “shaped charge” to direct its energy in a particular direction), but incredibly, part of it is still standing. A giant bite has been taken out of it, a U-shaped section missing from all nine floors. 165 people from the building are dead or dying — including 19 children, fifteen of them from the daycare center which was almost directly above the truck bomb.
Enough glass blown into the air that shards rained down for 10 minutes, 323 buildings damaged or destroyed, investigators searching through 450 tons of debris for clues, one of the axle housings from the rented truck found 575 feet away (and that close only because it collided with a car), 168 killed in the blast and another during the rescue. So much death that 30 children were orphaned, another 219 lost at least one parent, that people had to decide which overlapping funerals for friends and co-workers to attend and which to miss, that it was estimated that one-third of the population of 387,000 knew someone who perished or was among the 850 injured.
I remember being so confused as a child as to why somebody would want to do something so horrible. What’s worse is an American did this. To his own people. To his own innocent people because he was mad at the goverment. Timothy McVeigh was caught VERY shortly after the bombing and was later sentenced to death and has since been executed. There are many conspiracy theories as to what happened, but I try not to focus on that.
What needs to be focused on was the people who lost their lives and their loved ones. What needs to be focused on is how our community came together so beautifully to support one another in this very scary time. People from all across the country fled into Oklahoma City to help with rescue missions that lasted for over 2 weeks.
They eventually imploded the building–and they never even found everyone. It was a horribly sad thing. I didn’t understand the magnitude of it until me and my mom went to the site a few days before it was to be imploded. I remember standing close to the bottom of it and feeling a sense of horror. How could one person do all this? People were in shock and crying around us. I’m glad my mom took me to see the site so I can see it myself. See what horrors man is capable of, but also see what beauitful positive things we are capable of.
Even worse, this didn’t just affect those in the building. A rescue worker was killed due to falling debris. My DARE teacher in 4th grade whom I adored eventually ended up committing suicide because he was haunted by what he saw on the scene that day.
Honestly, I still get pretty emotional thinking about even though it happened so long ago. Also, I get emotional about it because it seems like so many people have forgotten what happened.
We now have a beautiful memorial in downtown Oklahoma City located right where the building sat.
These monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 a.m. – and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East Gate represents 9:01 a.m. on April 19, and the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate represents 9:03 a.m., the moment we were changed forever, and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing.
Field of Empty Chairs
The 168 chairs represent the lives taken on April 19, 1995. They stand in nine rows to represent each floor of the building, and each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children. The field is located on the footprint of the Murrah Building.
The pool occupies what was once N.W. Fifth Street. Here, a shallow depth of gently flowing water helps soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. The placid surface shows the reflection of someone changed forever by their visit to the Memorial.
The Survivor Tree, an American Elm, bore witness to the violence of April 19, 1995, and withstood the full force of the attack. Years later, it continues to stand as a living symbol of resilience. The circular promontory surrounding the tree offers a place for gathering and viewing the Memorial.
If you ever get the chance to come to Oklahoma City, I urge you to visit the Memorial. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of meaning.
April 19th is a couple weeks away, but when April 19th comes around, please take a moment to say a quick prayer to all those who lost loved ones that morning and take a moment to remember those who lost their lives that day.
Sorry to be so somber on this Friday, but everytime April comes around I remember that morning and just wanted to share with all of you some of my memories and a little more about what happened.
**Come back this weekend–I’m starting a fun new workout program next week and I’ll talk about it this weekend**