April 19, 1995. Mark and I were in Oklahoma, Broken Arrow, at his parents’ house, the day of his brother Ray’s funeral. We got home, changed clothes. Came downstairs. Sunlight was warm through the windows, the house shadowed by trees. Everybody was quiet, exhausted. Somebody turned on the television. News report, helicopter circling a mass of smoke and dust. News anchors vamping, talking about downtown Oklahoma city, an explosion in downtown Oklahoma City, believed to be the federal building, cause unknown. Then it became an unconfirmed bomb. Then it was an unconfirmed bomb, detonated by “Muslim extremists.” There was a police sketch of an “Arab” suspected in the attack.

Turned out it was one of us. Soldier turned vigilante. Hate is powerful fuel for a terrible weapon.

Six years later, when the unthinkable happened again, my little red home state showed its true colors by doing what Oklahomans do best — reaching out in love and friendship and kinship to others who are suffering, saying we know, we’ve been there, we understand, tell us what to do for you.

Oklahomans red and blue, you are beautiful. I love you. You are home.

What images and recollections do you have of 4/19/1995?




About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
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6 Responses to 9:01

  1. Kim says:

    I was sitting at a conference room table working on a grant and watching the horrific news from afar. I remember clearly the initial assumption that this was a Muslim, and not a fresh-faced “Christian” white boy seething with hatred.

  2. Dana Mullen says:

    That was the day I chose to cancel my subscription to the Dallas Morning News. That event also instigated a habit. I never leave my family without making sure “I love you” is sincerely spoken and heard. I say those words even if I am just going out for a quick run to the store because in truth, one never knows.

  3. lisaleary says:

    That morning I was on a call taking care of some household business. The TV was on but mute. Suddenly the ‘Breaking News’ flashed and pictures of a smouldering rubble pile appeared and the words Oklahoma City … I told the woman on the phone I had to go and she said, ‘We are not finished with your business … ‘ I said, studnned, I have to go and hung up.
    Feeling helpless as we watched image after image of scenes we cannot understand – all that day, into the night, into the next days … .
    Remembering the call for help for rescue workers. I recall particularly the request for work gloves and rain gear [it started raining] for those digging through the rubble searching for survivors. There were several locations people could drop of those items plus water.
    I remember people we knew going to OKC to assist in the rescue efforts.
    I remember in shock we learned of a family member who barely escaped …

  4. Becky says:

    I was teaching at Union. The principal announced it over the intercom. My classes were scheduled for the computer lab that day so I spent most of the day watching the news coverage on TV from the computer lab of Union’s Eighth Grade Center.

  5. Dana G. See says:

    I was in a tent in the Rincon Mountains, AZ, snowed in. Finally made it down, totally wet and cold, and invited to a strangers home to dry out. That’s when we heard on the radio, then saw the news on tv. It was so amazing how cut off I was from even domestic events – until I got down off the mountain and back to civilization. Made me think of how it was for people, travelers, not that long ago.

  6. cadyetx says:

    I am a Federal employee and had been in the Murrah building before. That day, I was at work in DC, and I got pulled out of a meeting for a call from my boss in Dallas. He told me what had happened. I went in and broke the news to everyone else. As a Federal employee, this date will always be significant to me.

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