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!