It hardly seems like it could have been 16 years ago that Oklahoma City was the victim of the nation’s worst domestic terrorist event.
That event put Oklahoma in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Yet, I was living in another state, and I remember how proud I was of the way the people of my state and my former city came together and showed the nation what Oklahoma is all about.
Today, people are remembering where they were and what they were doing when the bomb went off at the Alfred P. Murrah building, killing 168 people, including small children.
Many in Enid were just getting their day started. Many people ended that day by going to Oklahoma City and doing what they could to assist the rescuers and the victims.
David Burrows, an Enid insurance agent who was living in Oklahoma City at the time, wrote on his Facebook this morning about how he felt compelled to go to the scene and help. He ended up working with the Red Cross through much of the rescue and clean-up efforts.
Incoming Enid City Commissioner Mike Stuber wrote on Facebook that he was working in Stillwater and was concerned about a friend of his who was stationed at Tinker. He talks about how proud he was of his friend who helped with the triage after the catastrophe.
Others, like April and Mike Danahy, made their way down to Oklahoma City to help take some supplies to the rescuers.
I know there are countless other stories about how people all over Oklahoma felt compelled to do something to help, to support the rescue efforts in some way.
The national TV lights blared on Oklahoma City for days after the event, and I couldn’t have been more proud or more nostalgic for my home state.
I had been in the media business in Oklahoma City, and I knew a lot of the people they were interviewing -- the assistant fire chief, the chamber of commerce president, even other media people. I cried many tears those days after the bombing.
My first trip back to Oklahoma City several weeks later, my husband and I just had to go down to the site. The rescue and cleanup efforts were over, the building demolished, but there was a chain link fence all around the site. On that fence were mementos, notes and other items left as memorials. It was haunting to stare at that big hole in the ground.
Many of those memorial items are now housed in the Oklahoma City Memorial building. The memorial is a fantastic tribute to the victims, the families, the rescuers and, yes, the people of Oklahoma.
If you are a native Oklahoman and haven’t been to the memorial, you owe it to yourself to take the time to see it. If you are new to Oklahoma, going to the memorial will give you a better understanding of the people of the state you now live in.
April 19, 1995 was a horrific day. But, it shone a bright and beaming light on our state and it showed the rest of the nation and world that Oklahomans don’t give in or give up. We fight. We show love and support to our neighbors and we possess a great pride in our values.
God bless all the families of the victims. And God bless Oklahoma.
Cindy Allen is managing editor of the Enid News & Eagle. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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