A clear and beautiful April morning in Oklahoma. A seemingly normal day—possibly started off boring or uneventful. But it only took one minute to change Oklahoma for the rest of time. One minute to kill 168 innocent lives and wounding many, many more. The blast of the truck bomb felt and heard all throughout the city. The day quickly turned into a day that we would never forget. A day that will forever be engraved on our hearts and in our city.
I wasn’t even three when Timothy McVeigh parked the Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City. I don’t remember that day. I don’t remember the fear and the panic. I don’t remember feeling the bomb and hearing the blast. None of my family was in the building at the time but this day…this horrific event has been a part of my family since it happened.
My grandpa, Papa as I call him, was an OKC fireman at the time of the bombing. Off duty at the time of the blast, he spent the first day covering other fire stations as his buddies and fellow fireman crawled through the broken glass and blood. The next days he joined the other fireman at the site.
I wish I remembered more of my Papa’s firefighting days. Once I began to realize how devastating this bombing was I began to be even more proud of my Papa. He saw things and had to crawl through things no one should ever have to do.
Today is the 21st anniversary of the bombing. And today is a day that I choose to be thankful and take time to remember the people we lost that day. My family was blessed and didn’t lose anyone that day but not everyone was so lucky.
Some people might wonder, after 21 years, why do we still care? Why do we still feel it so deeply like it was yesterday? I think that the day we stop taking time to remember those we lost is the day that we have become too apathetic to the world today.
I take today to remember who we lost and thank the ones who risked their lives to help others. My Papa is just one of hundreds of firemen and other first responders that worked the bombing. They are the unsung heroes of that day, as in any tragedy.
Last year, I did a photo-shoot and audio story for the 20th anniversary with my grandpa. I re-edited some of the pictures for today’s post.
HERE is the audio story…I highly recommend listening to it!!
HERE is another feature style story I wrote about this.
Thank you to all the first responders. Families that lost loved ones…we stand with you. In the words of the mission statement of the OKC National Memorial, “We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.”