April Column Winner

April 19 changed my life forever

JOSH BURTON, Owasso Reporter

I will always remember April 19, 1995, as a day that changed my life.
I was a junior in high school and remember hearing about the bombing after lunch, when a classmate of mine kept saying an Oklahoma City radio station was knocked off the air after a bomb threat had been called in to the building where the station was housed.
She then said she heard from another station that the Alfred R Murrah Federal Building had been blown up.
To be truthful, I'd never heard of nor seen the building. It was the first time I can remember an event capturing the lives of so many.
My dad said he will always remember the day John E Kennedy was shot. Well, this was one of those moments for my generation.
It really made me realize how vulnerable people can be to things. Up until that point, I never really thought about domestic or international terrorism or anything like that.
This event really made me think about that in a different way.
I remember how I too went through the five stages they talk about for recovery. I remember most distinctly, being angry because someone could have the nerve to set up a truck as a bomb, then ignite it and destroy a building.
Once that subsided, I soon coped with that realization that it actually happened.
You expected something like that to happen maybe in a larger city, but never something of that magnitude. The fact it happened in Oklahoma City, just 20 miles away from where I lived, scared me.
I distinctly remember the first time I saw the destruction of that day. My family went to the site and parked about a blocks away.
We walked west on Fifth Street from Broadway. When we began, it was normal conversations and people talking. Not even a half a block later, those conversations ceased and the closer and closer we got, there was hardly any noise at all.
At that time, the fence at the corner of Robinson and Fifth was still up and no one had taken items off of it. These items consisted of flowers, children's toys, etc., all things people had left there.
All we could see when we looked up at the remaining portions of the Murrah building, was a gaping hole directly in front of us, where Fifth Street used to be. There were floors of the building that just had drop offs, and pieces of the remaining debris were piled up on the ground.
All I could think about was how this could have been done in Oklahoma City, how this kind of act could be so close to home.
Today, that fence is gone, the building long since imploded and removed.
Today, there is a constant reminder of this act of terror. A reflecting pool now sits in the spot of Fifth Street. Onehundred- sixty-eight seats, including 19 smaller seats, sit in the area that was the Murrah Building. Those seats, that pool and the Oklahoma City National Memorial are a constant reminder that we are never safe.
That was the lesson I learned April 19, 1995. 

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