Monday, April 19, 2010

Where I Was on April 19, 1995

The RHOK
Wow...look how tricky I am, I actually took the time to put the "button" on my post today. Something I don't normally do, but today I'm not rushed to get something posted.

So, today the RHOK asked, "Where Were You on April 19, 1995." I think I can offer a different perspective on this question than most people who post a McLinky today. Because I was not living in Oklahoma. I watched this unfold from the "outside."

I was living in Manhattan, Kansas (I moved to Oklahoma two months later--maybe I'll post about why I decided to move later). I remember hearing about it as I arrived at my job as supervisor of one of the bookstores at K-State (I was kind of at a place in my life where I was double thinking my decision about what I'd majored in and was working just to pay the bills and stay in Manhattan until I figured out where I wanted to move to). After I arrived at the bookstore, I always went to the breakroom/kitchen area to get my morning Diet Coke and see what they day would bring. It was there that someone told me what happened in Oklahoma City--that a building in downtown had exploded. It certainly piqued my interest because I had family living in Oklahoma, but I knew they were safe...they were in Tulsa and Stillwater and wouldn't have ventured over to downtown Oklahoma City by 9:00 a.m. So while I found it a little too close to family, I didn't glue myself to the TV to see what was going on. I don't think I saw images of the building until I got home that afternoon. People mentioned it throughout the day, but keep in mind, it was 300 miles away, it wasn't really the main topic of conversation...

until....

Timothy McVeigh was stopped....

And there was a connection to Kansas....

To Junction City, Kansas...20 miles away.

That's when things got a little dicey. Were we safe? Was he (and his co-horts) headed to Kansas to do the same thing to us? Who knew. But it was most definitely a nervous time for those of us in Kansas. Our hearts were breaking for our neighbors to the south, but felt like we were next on "the list." Plus, I think every fertilizer broker/store in Kansas was put on the defensive and felt responsible (there are many places in Kansas where you can buy large quantities of fertilizer--at least back then, I think that's changed after the OKC bombing. The farmers need that fertilizer...remember the western 2/3 of the state are farmland. If you want to eat bread, the farmers need the fertilizer to feed their field, to grow the wheat, etc., etc.). In a way, I think Kansans in general were put on the defensive, because the thinking was "a Kansan did this to Oklahoma." When in reality Timothy McVeigh wasn't from Kansas, he'd just been stationed at Fort Riley (in Junction City). No way would a real, true, kind hearted, heartlander from Kansas do that (did you ever see any of the interviews with the owners of the fertilizer store where McVeigh got his materials? So sad, this poor guy had such guilt and felt so responsible, but is wasn't his fault. He didn't know he was being lied to).

Anyway, it was a strange, surreal time. Then, when the feds made a connection with McVeigh and Terry Nichols to Kingman, ARIZONA, that made things even worse for people from Kingman, KANSAS. It just got geographically confusing, people didn't listen carefully to news reports and residents of Kingman, KANSAS were defending themselves that they had nothing to do with it and no, we didn't know McVeigh or Nichols. Pretty sure neither of them ever set foot in Kingman, KANSAS.

Anyway, so that's just a jumbled up version of where I was and what happened with me on the day of the bombing and the day/weeks following. It is a most heartbreaking event in Oklahoma's history. Even today when I see the images of that day, I find myself holding my breath, hoping that what I'm seeing isn't real. When I hear stories from people who lost loved ones, I cry. When I hear accounts from the rescuers, my heart hurts. But I will never fully relate like those who lived it as it was happening. I know this will tick people off, but I've never even been to the bombing memorial (actually, I've only really driven through OKC). I'd like to go, but I'm not ready to try to explain the kind of hatred that caused something like that to my kiddos. So maybe we'll just wait a couple years.

When I see the photos of the OKC bombing (and the 9/11 ones, too), it just makes me thankful that I live in a country where I don't live every waking moment with the fear that my car might blow up or that a bomb might destroy and kill hundreds of lives every day. Can you imagine living in that fear every day?

So, in closing, all I can say is God Bless Oklahoma, grant the loved ones of the people who died peace and understand that only God can provide. And I pray that this kind of heinous act never happens again and another life is not lost to that kind of hatred.

6 comments:

Kellyology said...

I think it's interesting to read the perspective of "outsiders" concerning that piece of our Okie history. And you might be interested to know that I was in OK during the bombing, still am, and have never gone to see the memorial. I think it's something that you either feel comfortable doing or not. Perhaps some day I'll go and probably will take the kids with me. I think it's important for them to see what can happen when people try to solve problems with violence.

Real Housewives of Oklahoma said...

I had never had the desire to visit the memorial and honestly, the day we went I wasn't happy about it. When we got there I was so overcome with emotion and the feelings I felt that day and in the weeks after rushed back. I plan on taking my kids this summer because well, I'm the mom and they have to go where I take them. :)And I want them to know - know how we Okies take care of our own.

Thanks for posting today and linking to theRHOK!

~~Mrs. Nesbitt

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great post Alyssa. It was confusing for a long time. The FBI did a great job tracking everything down. It was such a heartbreak to hear that somebody in Kingman, (AZ) could have alerted authorities to the plot and elected not to.

ShaRhonda said...

Thanks for posting this perspective! Wow! When you are faced with such tragedy, you never stop to think about how others also must feel, especially when you find out the events started/unfolded so close to your town. Thanks for playing along! ♥Mrs. Hart♥

Baloney said...

I don't remember about Kingman nor did I ever find selling fertilizer suspicious in the state of Kansas. Most Okies should know better.
The truth is that if someone wants to hurt us, they will find a way.

Dawn said...

Great post Alyssa. I agree with the others, it's very interesting hearing the perspective from people outside of Oklahoma at the time.

Thank you for posting up with The RHOK today.