Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Oklahoma City Bombing: Hope and Resolve Amidst the Mourning

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Oklahoma City Bombing: Hope and Resolve Amidst the Mourning

Article excerpt

In Oklahoma City Sunday, about 1,000 people gathered to mark the anniversary of the bombing that shattered the city and rocked the country 20 years ago.

There were music and prayers. The names of the 168 people killed on April 19, 1995 were read, slowly and solemnly. Officials spoke, including Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, FBI Director James Comey, and former president Bill Clinton, who had come to the site shortly after the blast at the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

For some of the nearly 700 survivors injured that day, their memories made it too difficult to attend the ceremony.

"For me, it's too distracting from the solemnity, the austerity that I want to experience on my own," said Joseph Webb.

"I'm not attending, not because it bothers me, but because I like to have my personal time to reflect on what happened," Mr. Webb said. "Each of us has been given a second chance, and I think because of that, we think about what we are going to do with that second chance."

Mr. Webb was one of the "miracle babies" - six children at the federal office building's America's Kids Day Care Center who survived. Nineteen other children at the child care center were killed.

Other survivors attended Sunday's memorial event.

"I hope we are an inspiration to those who are starting their own journey to healing," said Priscilla Salyers who was injured and trapped in the rubble for hours. "I hope people see that life goes on. So many of us have picked up the pieces and kept moving forward."

Still, an estimated one-fourth of the survivors have shown signs of PTSD.

"We saw a lot of the survivors and a lot of the family members first," John Tassey, a psychologist at the VA Medical Center in Oklahoma City, told NPR. "And now, here we are 20 years later and we're opening new cases for post-traumatic stress disorder."

In the days following the blast, word spread of an "Oklahoma standard." Boiled down to "service, honor, and kindness," it's become a program dedicated to compassion and resilience in the face of tragedy.

"You turned away all of the petty squabbles in which we engage, leaving only our basic humanity," President Clinton said Sunday. …

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