{9:02 a.m.} We Will Never Forget

I was only 9 years old when the bombing of the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building occurred. I don’t pretend and say that I felt the “rumble” in my 3rd grade classroom, nor do I honestly remember much about that day as it was occurring. I remember the days following, as the building continued to fall, piece by piece, and emergency crews from around the country came to our aid—putting out fires and searching through the rubble for more people as the death count continued to climb.

Fast forward seven years later to a 16-year-old me, who sat watching the Twin Towers fall on live television. It felt too familiar…it was the first time I recall feeling both sympathy and empathy in a true way. I started digging deeper into my own state’s tragedy for some sort of connection, a way to compare the two. I didn’t find anything that was less than gruesome, disgusting, terrifying, and despairing.

What I did find was this: there was no comparison.

Both were tragedies, to say the very least. Both were acts of terrorism and hatred. Both were direct attacks on our government, with innocent lives taken as a sick way to send a message. Both affected the nation as a whole, and their respective states individually. Both shook me to the core of my existence.

Photo courtesy of: oklahomacitybombing.com

The act on my state, though? My city? My people? THAT was personal. As a mother, I sob each year for the parents who lost one (or more) of the 19 children killed in the daycare, and for the families of any of the 168 lives lost and/or 500 injured.

As I watch the Murrah Bombing anniversary footage replay on my television year after year, I think of how our world has gotten even worse with senseless acts of violence: school shootings, gruesome home invasions, disgusting attacks upon other races/religion. Our nation has gotten wildly out of control, and I will be the first to say that I have no clue how to stop it…or even how to prevent it. However,  I do know how I’ve worked to overcome each low blow. How we, as a state, have learned to put the pieces back together again after tragedy hits us in the heart of our land.

Photo courtesy of npr.org

We grow from it.

After the OKC Bombing, Oklahomans were scared. We wanted answers and, as we received them, we wanted justice. Years later, after the men responsible had been sentenced and I was old enough to comprehend the outcome, I wept. Wept for the man who would pay the price for his actions, wondering what things must’ve been like in his life for him to commit such a heinous crime. Wept for the justice that would be served for the families who had been through such devastation, and wept for ALL of us, that we could finally begin to heal. 

We help each other rebuild.

Oklahomans have experienced not only the worst terrorist attack to take place on U.S. soil {before 9/11}, but countless wildfires, earthquakes, and tornadoes. All which have left our towns and cities feeling heartbroken and defeated. But, do you know what the great thing about this unbeatable state of ours is?

We each grab a hand, one by one, and lift each other out of the sadness until we’re all standing whole again. The plans our state made for the rebuilding of our downtown area, including the 300 buildings in the immediate area surrounding the bombing that were damaged or destroyed, were remarkable. The end result of the OKC National Memorial Museum {that stands where the Murrah building once towered} is breathtaking. 

We teach our kids about it.

Not only am I a mother, but I’m a high school teacher. None of my students were even alive when our city was almost defeated with such hatred. They can’t comprehend the depths of sorrow that shook their state just a few miles up the road, or the years it has taken us to recover. I accept personal responsibility to teach ALL of my students about that day. To create a chance for empathy in their hearts, should they {heaven forbid} EVER have to encounter this type of affliction in the human race.

We never forget.

Those of us who lived through that heartbreaking time have also lived to see how what we lost has been so graciously honored. At 9:02am (the time the bomb went off) on April 19th, we all bow our heads in silence. We come together in remembrance for who and what we lost that day, and give thanks to those who came to our aid. At the OKC National Memorial, visitors can walk inside the Gallery of Honor, or tour the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial, which houses the Gates of Time, Reflecting Pool, Survivor Tree, Field of Empty Chairs, Children’s Area, and The Fence. Others train all year in preparation for the Oklahoma City Marathon, when they can reflect upon their own reasons for running.

Unless we educate our future generations about the devastation from this day, we cannot expect them to understand that this type of hatred in the word is abnormal—no matter what they see in the media. Unless we learn about it ourselves, we cannot expect to make a change for said generations or their attitude toward travesties our world experiences.

Do you plan to tell your kiddos about the importance of this day, and what it means for Oklahomans?

Powerful photograph courtesy of FBI.gov

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