Saturday, April 17, 2010

We remember: 4/19/95

Do you remember?

Do you remember where you were on April 19, 1995?

I do.

I was 12 years old.

At 9:02 am, my world, our world was changed forever.

It has been 15 years since the bomb shook downtown Oklahoma City.

It is still shaking us today.

I was a child when this happened, yet the impact on me was so immense. I cried and cried and watched hours and hours of footage. Of the firemen and rescue workers. My heart broke in a million pieces. I was much too young to understand what it meant to be a mom. Nonetheless, my heart was breaking for the parents, of all ages, who lost their children. I wrote a lot of really bad poetry about the bombing, the humanity, the pain, the loss…and the triumph of the human spirit. I’m not sure how normal it was for a 12 year old to obsess over this but I suppose it was in a way a healthy way for me to deal with the complex emotions a tragedy like this brought forth. I had no friends or family member in the building… but, that didn’t stop me from being human and feeling the range of emotions.

The Oklahoma City bombing was the largest act of terrorism on American soil at that time and still the largest act of domestic terrorism. 168 lives, including 19 children (the building housed a daycare) were lost that day.

This photo, of baby girl Baylee still makes me cry (I’m crying as I write this) and makes we want to puke b/c of the sorrow.

1200 rescue workers – from across the country and across the world – the National Guard, firefighters, police officers – came to OKC to help. The outpouring of support was overwhelming. Quickly, we realized that good would come and goodness and light would outshine the evil of the bombing. (Cheesy, yes, but true)

The fence, to protect the public from the debris was put up…and to this day visitors still leave notes, poems, stuffed animals…

This message (sprayed on the wall on the days after and still there at the Memorial site) says it all:

Ten years ago, the Memorial opened and a few years later the Museum. In the past few years downtown OKC and Bricktown has undergone a makeover. We have Fortune 500 companies and a NBA Team and hip new night clubs… our downtown is much more hustle and bustle than 15 years ago. But what stands strong and proud – a silent beacon of peace and hope – in our downtown is the Memorial. 

The chairs, representing the victims, stand dignified. The reflecting pool allows for silent remembrance. And the survivor tree stands with grace. The Survivor tree stands tall and proud to show that inherent goodness we have as a human race.

I like to visit the Memorial at dusk. The lights glimmer faintly as nighttime envelopes the city and the contrast is hauntingly beautiful. I go to the Memorial and I take my children. To remember, to pay honor and to respect those who lost their lives and those who came together as a community to survive.

So the bombing is still shaking us…shaking us to remember to do our best each day to live with love.

I try to teach my children to love. Love those who are the same as you and love those who are different. Perhaps you will not always agree with someone but you should always respect them. I teach my children history. I teach them that evil exists in this world, but they can handle evil if they have faith, hope and love. I teach them about humanity and tragedy. I do my best to show them all the good that has come from this tragedy. I show them the bad too. If we don’t know our history, we are doomed to repeat it.

I ask you too to remember. Remember Baylee. Remember the others who were there that day. Remember the rescue workers. Remember to love someone today.


TB said...

I had no idea that such beautiful memorials exist there in downtown OKC to pay respects to the victims of the bombing. Thanks for sharing. It looks like the city has done an amazing job--not only memorializing the site, but moving on from the tragedy.

Erin said...

TB, it is a beautiful is a testament to the city's strength and character. Hopefully, you will have a chance to visit it one day.

Amy xxoo said...

I was only 11 at the time, and would have been asleep in bed at the exact moment it happened, but i do remember it being on the news and how desperatly sad i felt for everyone involved.
When ever the OKC bombing is mentioned i always hear that Garth Brooks song in my head " I hear them saying, you'll never change things... " ( sorry cant remember what its called ) and see the images he used for that film clip... and everytime i see that fiolm clip i breakdown in tears....

Erin said...

Amy, yes, it's Garth Brook's "the change."