Monday, April 19, 2010

I Know What a Second Means. . . "

It was 15 years ago today. I was at work. I always listened to music in my office, and didn't check news on line back then. I was walking down the hall when I heard about a federal building in Oklahoma City being bombed. I immediately became concerned - you see, my youngest brother worked in a federal building in downtown OKC. I had no idea which one.

I began trying to call Randy - it was a constant busy signal. This was before everyone had cell phones, too, of course. I can't remember how I finally heard the news, but I learned that he was okay. But it could have been disastrous for him, as well as so many who lost their lives or were severely injured.

Randy's office was only two blocks from the Murrah Building. When the blast hit, he was sitting at his desk. The next thing he knew, he had been hurled across the room, hitting the opposite wall, knocking down his "Kramer" poster (from Seinfeld - I've always thought it amusing that he had such a poster in his office, considering his position). It is a very good thing that he was thrown out of his desk chair, because a huge, incredibly heavy window and frame behind his chair landed on his desk. He found glass pieces and shards of mini-blind embedded in all of his files all over his office when the clean-up began.

At the same moment as the blast, my SIL was trying to call him from the doctor's office to tell him the results of her ultrasound on their third baby. She was hearing people in the background saying, "Where's Swanson, Where's Swanson?", as the phone was off the hook. That was unnerving, to say the least.

It turned out that the people from his building had taken shelter in a bank across the street, where the windows had blown out and they just walked in from the street.

Randy's position at that time was PR and press secretary for the governor. His job immediately became very intense. As you can imagine, he was on many media interviews and print as well. Ironically, one of the television stations went out to the elementary school where his older son was in kindergarten to get reactions from the children. Even more amazingly, they talked to his son, David, who is about to graduate from West Point next month. David was on the evening news saying, "My mom and I know what a second means - we could have lost my dad in a second!"

About two weeks later, Randy found a window of opportunity to escape the intensity and come to Colorado for a short visit. He really needed a break. He brought David with him and we had a great time helping him decompress.

That next Thanksgiving, we decided to go celebrate in Oklahoma with them. Randy took us down to the site of the tragedy, and we looked at all of the things left on the makeshift memorial on the chain link fence surrounding the disaster area.

Randy stood at a street corner and pointed to each and every building where he knew someone who was working there that day - he could recount every conversation, every feeling, every sensory event. It was deeply ingrained in his body and mind.

In the months after the bombing, it became apparent that there was overwhelming support for the creation of a major, permanent memorial where the Murrah Building once stood. Then-Mayor Ron Norick appointed a 350-member task force to explore ways to remember this tragic event, and especially to honor the 168 Oklahomans who died. In March 1996, the task force issued its report.

In the Memorial Mission Statement, the Task Force called for the creation of a memorial to “…remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever…” – in short, all who were touched directly or indirectly by the bombing. (Taken from the web site).

You can visit this web site if you'd like to know about the symbolism involved in the memorial. I haven't had the opportunity to visit the beautiful completed memorial, but I hope to someday.

This is definitely one of those events in our lives that we always remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard about it.

(If you missed the Twin Update, please check out the previous post).

Have a wonderful week!


Becky said...

I've always felt that the memorial at the bombing site is one of the most moving memorials I have seen. The other that moves me in the same way is the Viet Nam memorial in DC.

Amazing that your brother and his family were such a part of that. It is one of those things that we will all remember ... where we were and what we were doing when it happened.

So much to be truly thankful for in your family.

grammy said...

thanks for the reminder
how easy we forget...I don't rember the pictures
I have been to ground zero in NY
that is hard to see too

I just read about the twins.
they are so have your hands full
and your heart full
which makes it worth it (o:

A Hint of Home said...

My niece's birthday is today and that's how I remember the date of that tragedy.
I remember I was ironing when the news broke.
The twins are as cute as can be!

Linda said...

What an amazing story Dawn. We all have memories of those days etched in our minds, but it was especially frightening for you and your family.
We went to the memorial when we were in Oklahoma. We were so impressed. It is such a poignant tribute to those who lost their lives.

nancygrayce said...

Oh, what a horrible second in time. The cruelty of some always shocks my senses.

Hootin' Anni said...

Vivid memories indeed. Hey? Dawn? I do love your new profile image. look super in that hat.

Now, I'm gonna go catch up on the 'twin update'.

Robin said...

We have family that live in OKC and we have been to that stunning and very emotional memorial. It truly was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
May we never forget.

Maine Mom said...

Thank you for this post, Dawn. I am so glad your brother was not physically harmed in this tragedy.

The twins are getting so big and they are as cute as ever! :-)

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Has it been that long? I remember that day but it seems such a short time ago.

Sammy said...


Being from New York, I especially appreciate the intensity of tragedies like this. It's so awful. Thank God your brother was okay.

Glenda said...

Some things are forever etched in our memories, and some things we should never forget. The Oklahoma tragedy is one of them. Our lives can certainly change in the blink of an eye, can't they? I'm sure your brother - and you and the family - relive those moments often.

Sharon Lynne said...

Thanks for sharing about this, Dawn. It made it much more real to me. What a beautiful memorial.

RainyD's said...

my now husband and I had gone to Montana to pick up my older sister - we were sitting at Hardys, this little fast food restaurant and every television in the place was turned on and that was on - it was a bitter sweet day - my Judi girl spoke her first word while we sat there in shock - saying Dadda to my best friend to get his attention (we weren't even dating yet) - I still remember it - my heart still breaks for the families that lost those they loved

PEA said...

I so remember that day, hearing it on the news and then watching the horrifying pictures on tv. Hard to believe it's already been 15 years ago. I hadn't seen the memorial they put where the building once beautiful!! It must have been such a relief to find out that your brother was safe. It's so true, a second can mean so much!!! xoxo

Brenda said...

It was so sad that it happened, but to know someone so close or to actually lose a loved one that way is so heart wrenching.

Kathleen said...

Wow, what it that long ago? 15 years! That was such a scary day. I can't imagine living in some of the countries where bombing is almost the norm. But the Lord is with us no matter what... That is the only comfort.

Judith said...

Hello again, Grandma Dawn,

Thank you so much for reminding us that terrible things like this can take place in our America, and thank our Lord above that your brother was safe.

When I first saw news about this bombing I thought it was something terrible that had happened in another part of the world, far, far from our America. and it wasn't until Nine Eleven that I realized just how close it could come to family. The Plane crashing in PA, not that far from where my daughter Bev lived, clarified that for me.
I remember seeing a newspaper headline about Nine/Eleven while in the grocery store, and as I walked by it, became numb all over.
We must never forget that we mustn't take evil peoples' intentions for granted, and not confuse having our rights with being safe. Sometimes we may need to fight, to keep them.