OKC bombing proves Oklahomans’ resilience, unity
Lauren Harned, The Oklahoma Daily
Fifteen years after 168 people lost their lives in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, life in downtown Oklahoma City is thriving while living in the shadow of the deadliest domestic terrorist attack on American soil.
Today, the Ford Center is filled with thousands of people united in cheering on the Oklahoma City Thunder. This team is, for Mayor Mick Cornett, a prime example that shows how the city and the state has moved forward after the bombing.
For many years, Oklahomans allowed for the bombing to define them, Cornett said. But now the Thunder allows the city and the state to connect itself to something more positive, he said.
Cornett said the Thunder and its success in Oklahoma could be, in part, traced back to April 19, 1995.
“There is one aspect you can look back and trace, and I think that’s the unity of the city,” he said.
Oklahoma City came out of the bombing strengthened as a more tightly knit group than ever before, he said.
With the playoffs in town this week, Cornett said Oklahoma City will have a noticeably higher public profile.
The Memorial Marathon is another example of how the state has moved forward, he said.
“It’s become one of the top runs in the world,” Cornett said. “And I think it’s a great opportunity to celebrate life and energy.”
Ultimately, Cornett said what happened back in 1995 was something we choose to remember, and it should not be viewed as an event we can’t forget.
Lauren Harned, The Oklahoma Daily
The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum was built to help remember those who died, those who survived and those who were changed forever April 19, 1995, said Kari Watkins, Memorial director.
“It’s meant to teach respect, responsibility and resilience,” Watkins said.
Through the memorial, people can learn that all choices have consequences and even through the worst of times, all Oklahomans are resilient enough to survive, Watkins said.
“We have to teach the lesson of hope,” she said. “That there’s hope even if something horrible happens. There’s a way to succeed.”
Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, said the bombing caused the nation to learn terrorism can rear its head in different ways.
“We have very serious threats from abroad, of course, in the form of terrorism by people who pervert the Islamic faith,” Rice said. “But we also learned that domestic anger and hatred can boil over into senseless violence.”
Rice said the resilience and compassion showed by Oklahomans was very profound.
“The empathy that the Oklahoma City community has since showed toward other communities affected by terrorism in Kenya and in New York City is also a unique byproduct of our compassion and personal struggles with the events of April 19, 1995,” he said.
OU President David Boren said because of the bombing, the entire nation learned the people of Oklahoma have a community spirit that is unmatched anywhere else.
“People immediately reached out to help each other and to support those who came to respond to the crisis,” Boren said.
Boren said he will never forget the New York firemen who left waving dollar bills saying they never had to spend a dollar of their own money while in Oklahoma.
There are many lessons to learn from, Boren said. First, we must do everything to keep the spirit of community strong, he said.
He also said that in the aftermath of a tragedy like the bombing, we must not give in to fear or intolerance.
Boren said some were quick to point blame at those from other places or members of certain religious groups when there was no factual basis to do so.
“I hope we have learned a lasting lesson that we should never give in to rushed judgment or give in to bigotry before we have all the facts,” he said.