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9:03 a.m. - Recovery Begins

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: April 19, 2013
One of my favorite shots of the 9:03 a.m. gate at the Oklahoma City National Memorial taken by former Oklahoman photo editor Bill Waugh.
One of my favorite shots of the 9:03 a.m. gate at the Oklahoma City National Memorial taken by former Oklahoman photo editor Bill Waugh.

One of my favorite shots of the 9:03 a.m. gate at the Oklahoma City National Memorial taken by former Oklahoman photo editor Bill Waugh.

I’m not a big believer in marking 9:02 a.m. on this infamous day. What does it represent? The moment a couple of murderers parked a Ryder truck on NW 5 and knowingly killed 168 innocent people all in the name of … nothing. It was mass murder. And an introduction to the tragedies we’re seeing with increasing frequency.
But 9:03 a.m. Now that’s something special. That was the moment we reminded everyone (as very eloquently stated this week by Patton Oswalt), there are far more good people than bad people in this world.
Recovery began at 9:03 a.m. I didn’t see hatred among the survivors that morning. There was love, compassion, and an overwhelming collective effort to start recovery as soon as possible. Race didn’t matter. Religion didn’t matter (at least not at that moment). Socio- and economic classes didn’t matter. Municipal boundaries didn’t matter. We were all in it together.
We’ve seen so many great revival stories downtown. But Automobile Alley will always hold a special place in my heart. Broadway was already a blighted, abandoned stretch of downtown that seemed to be going nowhere fast. But in the aftermath of the bombing, our community regrouped, and declared we weren’t going to let this tragedy stop us in our prior commitment to better ourselves, through beefing up public safety, through the zoo tax, the MAPS initiatives, the renewed emphasis on improving neighborhoods, the self examination of what parts of our city embarrassed us and the discussion on how to address such concerns.
So the bombing tore up what was already a blighted Broadway Avenue. Were we going to simply board back up the windows? Tear it all down?
Heck no. Today, Automobile Alley is a tribute to the community that, at 9:03 a.m. this day, in 1995, drew together and said “We’re not beaten. We’re Oklahomans. And we will come back back better and stronger.”
God bless all of you. I write this with tears in my eyes. I still mourn the senseless loss of 9:02 a.m. And I’ll never forget the recovery that began at 9:03 a.m.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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