Oklahoma City Bombing, 15 Years Later: Emerging Stronger
These days, it seems like another life: driving to the Norman bureau of The Oklahoma Gazette and hearing the news on the radio: that there had been an explosion in downtown Oklahoma City. My wife worked downtown at the time, and I was able to get through to Laura at her office before the phone lines became tied up. She had been walking to work at 9:02 a.m., passing a Chick-Fil-A, when the plate glass window exploded in front of her. She was okay, but obviously shaken up, and at that point, we still did not know the nature of the explosion — whether it was a gas line or an attack.
I called my editor, Mike Easterling, and he told me to drive up to the city, passing the billowing plume of smoke rising from downtown. I met up with fellow reporter Phil Bacharach, photographer Mark Hancock and contributing writer Madeline Tower and rode into downtown in Mark’s Jeep — our colleague, Jonathan Nicholson, took a separate car. The closest we could get was about a mile from the Murrah Building, and we were immediately struck by the broken glass everywhere. We walked in and stayed there all day, covering it from a cordoned press area about 100 yards from the building. Back then, only the TV reporters had cell phones, so we had to occasionally borrow one from Tamara Pratt, then with KWTV, just to check in with the office. Laura had left work, and we were able to stay in touch by checking in with the Gazette’s receptionist.
I was there every day for about three weeks, covering the rescue and recovery efforts as well reporting on the city of satellite trucks that brought journalists from around the world to cover this crime against our city, our nation, our children.
Hard news is not part of my life anymore, and while my inclination was always to become an entertainment journalist, I believe that the stories I covered in the year or so following the bombing, especially a story I wrote about a white separatist compound in eastern Oklahoma that Timothy McVeigh visited prior to the crime, hastened my move to writing about movies and music. We were all war reporters for a while. But the nightmares got to me.
Today, when I read Easterling’s excellent op-ed in the New York Times, I thought deeply about the bombing, and how it still affects us. It would probably be better if we all thought about it more often — not just on April 19. But Easterling got it right: we did not develop an identity as victims, but we remember what happened in our city to 168 of our parents, brothers, sisters, friends and children with “sober and respectful consideration of the past.”
Buy Tickets View all
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients