Within hours of 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, America knew that something was terribly wrong. It had not been an accident. It had been a bomb – a terrorist attack on American soil – in the heartland. It changed lives and it changed America. Today there are no parking spaces in front of any federal buildings. Now you cannot leave an unattended vehicle at any airport. Many people may not realize or remember why these restrictions came.
I was living about 15 miles from the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. At 9:02 a.m. the house shook and the windows rattled. I immediately went outside to look around. Workers at the house next door were playing music. Nothing out of the ordinary had seemingly happened. I left the house for my day as I had originally planned. Then the news came – there had been an explosion in Oklahoma City with massive impact destroying one building and leaving the area like a war zone with windows shattered and cars thrown. They were asking people to go quickly to donate blood. I drove to the nearest blood bank where a line had formed outside the building and down the street. We had seen the grim faces as the news was reported and had heard the deep concern in the voices of our local newscasters. We all waited in numb silence. We were told that the need for our blood was not as great as originally reported, because so many lives had been lost; but I don’t remember anyone leaving. We all wanted to do something – anything that might help. A bone-weary nurse took my blood without too many words spoken. Our hearts were even more broken when we learned this was not an accident – but a bomb. This had been planned.
Then the remarkable happened. People poured into Oklahoma City to help. The City mobilized to care for the victims and to comfort those who had lost loved ones. People looked at strangers and nodded or even hugged. Disaster relief teams came – trained in search and rescue. Experts came with large equipment to move tons of metal and concrete to look for anyone who may have survived. The official FEMA website reports:
- At 9:02 a.m. on the morning of April 19, 1995 a bomb exploded from within a Ryder truck under the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast caused a partial collapse of all 9 floors of the 20-year-old building. 168 people died.
- Rescuers from the Oklahoma City Fire Department entered the building unsure of whether or not the building would continue to support its own weight. Most of the steel support system had been blown out.
- Within five hours of the blast the first FEMA urban search-and-rescue task force was deployed. By 6 p.m. the task force was in the building searching for victims. One of the first assignments was to search the second floor nursery for victims.
- Teams with search-and-rescue dogs began the search in the nursery. The dogs are trained to bark when they find live victims. No dogs barked that night.
Oklahoma will be forever grateful to those who came. But the people of Oklahoma also stepped up – in so many ways – from random acts of kindness to planned acts of service. This spirit of generosity became so prevalent that visiting rescue workers and journalists lovingly gave IT a name – they called it the “Oklahoma Standard”.
This year in the month of April to honor the twentieth anniversary of the Murrah bombing, Oklahomans are being asked and we are asking iSissies to commit to the “Oklahoma Standard” in three ways:
Service – give your time to someone in need. This could mean volunteering at a soup kitchen or tutoring a student.
Kindness – hold a door open for a stranger, smile at someone, acknowledge someone with kindness – be spontaneous – do not plan this ahead of time!
Honor – visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum
or visit the website and remember the 168 people who lost their lives.
We have committed to the Oklahoma Standard as an iSissies group, but you can also commit as an individual if you would like to have your name appear on the list personally. https://okstandard.org/
iSissies, where you were at 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995 or when you first heard about the bombing in Oklahoma City? Hug someone today and remember.