14 year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

I didn’t realize the anniversary was today until Gabriel Malor over at Ace of Spades did a post about it:

I can’t believe it has been so long. Fourteen years ago at 9:02 in the morning a truck parked outside the America’s Kids Day Care Center exploded. The blast, fueled by a fertilizer-diesel mix, was felt up to sixty miles away. It obliterated the day care center and brought down a third of the building. It shattered the windows of nearby buildings, killing or injuring many outside the target.

I’m talking, of course, about the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Ultimately, 168 people, including 19 children, were killed. Three unborn babies were also killed.

I was in junior high school at the time, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It was a Wednesday and for some reason I was out of the classroom. I don’t remember if I was running an errand for a teacher or what, but I do remember that I was on my way back to class when I passed the main office. Unusually, the TV was on, and quite loudly. It looked like everyone was gathered around it. So I wanted to see what was going on.

There was much more confusion that morning than is remembered now. Now we know that there was only one bomb, the Ryder truck. But back then there was a series of bomb scares during the rescue efforts. That was the first thing I saw and the strongest images I have of the bombing.

It was live footage in the street near the Murrah building. I remember seeing people sitting or standing, most of them crying or clutching injuries. There was blood. There were EMTs and firemen. And then suddenly so many people were running away. It wasn’t immediately apparent why they were doing that–and then the cameraman started running too, which added another element of confusion.

It was all very hard to believe. Not just a bombing in Oklahoma–really? Oklahoma? But an on-going attack. I was so confused because the people I’d seen on TV were already hurt and the EMTs and firemen were already there. When you’re a child you think, “Okay, the good guys are here; you can stop being afraid.” But that wasn’t the case, and I only realized it that minute. If I had to list the important formative events in my life, that would be right near the top.

When I got back to the classroom I didn’t say anything to anyone. I didn’t know what to tell them and I could hardly believe it myself, even after seeing it live and hearing the people in the main office crying. It was the same experience I had six years later during 9/11 when my first thought upon turning on the TV was that they were showing a movie clip on FNC. This cannot possibly be happening.

Sometimes I still feel that way.

And, of course, a couple of people over there decided to make snide comments about the post. Thankfully, and I’m happy to see this, the other commenters told them to take a long walk off a short pier, to put it mildly.

The weird thing is that I don’t really remember the Oklahoma City bombing. Might have something to do with my age (only seven years old at the time). I do vaguely remember the news coverage of the first World Trade Center bombing — one or two fleeting images of smoke coming up from the parking garage (five years old at the time). I remember the news coverage of the Columbine massacre in 1999 (the 10 year anniversary of Columbine is tomorrow as a side note) pretty well, but I was 11 years old by the time that happened.

I could probably describe every word and feeling on September 11th, 2001. I remember very well coming out of gym class in the morning and just feeling this weird tension among the teachers and faculty of the school as I went to lunch. It was like everyone was on edge and waiting for something to happen. After lunch, I was in the bathroom and two other students were saying that there had been a bombing at the Pentagon. I was thinking to myself, “What the heck are you guys talking about?” After that, I had English class and the teacher came forward and said that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, and another into the Pentagon; the teacher didn’t mention that the WTC buildings had collapsed though. Probably a good idea at the time, not wanting to cause a panic or anything.

At the time, I was thinking “planes” as in something the size of Cessna. I didn’t learn how bad it was until I got home and saw the video a thousand times.

And the bad thing is that I might not have done this post noting the anniversary except for the fact that there’s a serious politician candidate that believes that the federal government was responsible for the atrocity in Oklahoma City.

UPDATE: The Jawa Report also has a post.