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April 19 memories are vivid in hearts of many

By Ann DeFrange Published: April 17, 2008
It still can make me cry.

This weekend, for the millionth time and the 13th year, we will relive the day in 1995 when a bomber destroyed the Murrah Building and 168 lives and the security and peace of a good city. We promised then we would "Never Forget.” So each April 19 we surrender to the magnetic force of the one downtown block that represents so much.

It's more than a memory.

In the past 13 years, life became something defined before April 1995 and after April 1995. The 9:02 gate at the National Memorial is a fitting symbol. The city would never be the same again, wrote a reporter for this newspaper during that first week.

This year, the commemoration at the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum focuses on the reporters, on all the journalists who were there that first day and the next few days; who stayed with the story for the weeks and months and years that it took to tell it. Here I am, 13 years out, still writing about it and tearing up a bit while I do so.

At some point, a few years after 1995, I looked around this newsroom and realized that many of the people who worked here then had not worked here during the intensive coverage of the bombing. The tight bond of survivorship and of a difficult mission accomplished had loosened.

But by then, we had talked about how reporters should conduct themselves when they are part of the story they are covering; when it is their city and their neighbors who are in or near the bombed building; when it is their college campus attacked by a shooter; when it is their homes lying in small pieces in the path of a tornado or hurricane.

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