A bomb blast in Boston took Jim Denny out of his living room in Oklahoma and placed him back at the foot of the crumbling Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, looking at the gaping hole where his two children should have been playing in their day care.
The two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in the city's historic Copley Square left at least three dead and more than 170 injured.
But Denny, whose children Brandon and Rebecca survived the bombing with severe injuries nearly 18 years ago, said the emotional scars on victims, family members, first responders and witnesses will take time to set in.
“There is not a day that goes by that I'm not standing in front of the Murrah Building again and seeing the day care gone,” Denny said. “The honest truth of the matter is we live with it every day.
“As Oklahomans, we know what Boston is going through, and we should let them know that we are there for them 100 percent.”
Susan Winchester was leaving the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum on Monday when she got the news about the Boston bombing.
Her son was rehearsing his part in the reading of victims' names from 1995 bombing for a memorial service on Friday, the 18th anniversary.
Winchester's sister, Peggy Clark, was killed in the bombing. Watching the news on Monday, Winchester said it was like watching a replay of her day in 1995, as shocked and scared people escaped the blast area looking for help.
“It was unbelievable to see that again,” Winchester said. “You just can't believe it. You can't accept it that someone would do that to someone. That someone else would have to suffer something like this again.”
Dr. R. Murali Krishna, president and chief operating officer of Integris Mental Health, remembers the outpouring of support and compassion that people around the world showed Oklahoma City after the bombing.
Krishna, a psychiatrist, was the chief of staff at St. Anthony Hospital, the hospital closest to the bombing site. Hundreds of people came through the hospital's doors, some of them minutes from death.
“The amazing thing was, people were volunteering each other to go in first, instead of arguing and shouting and fighting,” he said. “It was an eerie silence in the emergency room. People were bleeding and in pain and no sense of what's going to happen next, but they were volunteering each other — ‘you go first — no, you go first.'”
“That's what Oklahoma City did, and that's hopefully what Boston is going to do,” he said.
Many people across the U.S. are in shock and disbelief, regardless of whether they were at the marathon or knew someone there. People might feel a loss of innocence and an overwhelming sense of fear, he said.
“This has a significant effect on the body and the mind and spirit, even in people that are not part of that, even in us who are watching it and learning about it,” Krishna said. “We have significant feelings and emotions aroused by what we're seeing.”
Within three or four weeks, most people can get their minds to focus less on a traumatic event. However, for people who are trauma survivors, such as crime victims, child abuse victims or some veterans, Monday's bombing could have triggered nightmares or anxiety, he said.
“For some of the people, any event that occurs resembling the traumatic event they've been through in the past may reawaken some of those memories,” Krishna said. “For most people with good healthy support structures and healthy inner coping skill mechanisms, it may not be a major issue, but there are some people that are vulnerable that do not have adequate coping skills, and it may reawaken some of the issues of trauma.”
‘A long process'
Richard DesLauriers, the FBI agent in charge in Boston, said on Tuesday that investigators “Will go to the ends of the Earth” to find whoever carried out the attack.
But Deloris Watson, whose grandson also survived the day care of the Murrah Building, said catching whoever is responsible for the attack is only a part of easing the pain.
“It's a long healing process because there are so many questions,” Watson said. “Where do I go from here? What resources are available? What resources for my family?
“It's not an easy process. It's a long process, it's a painful process. You're having to learn to live your life all over again because everything changes.”
‘Showed the world'
With every image of destruction shown on television or online, Winchester said she likes to focus on the people rushing in to help, risking their lives to aid the injured.
Winchester said she believes in the aftermath of terrible events such as the bombings in Boston and Oklahoma City, the kindness of man always shines through to counteract the evil of a few.
“Someone has tried to hurt you and bring you down, but they have given you the ability to rise above and be more than you were before,” she said. “We had a terrorist that tried to bring us to our knees, but we showed the world what we can do.”