April 19, 1995 I was nearing the end of my junior year of college at a small school in Missouri. I'm sure I was supposed to be in class, but for whatever reason (laziness) I was in my dorm watching TV. I just remember hearing the words "bombing," "federal building," and "Oklahoma". . .immediately I picked up the phone and dialed my mom's work number. "All circuits are busy." Oh. God.
On April 19, 1995 my mom was in her 20th year working for a federal judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She worked in the federal building.
I must have tried her work number a thousand times before calling my grandparents. I was so scared. I still didn't know it was the Oklahoma City federal building. The terror I felt shut off my ears to anything but the continual "all circuits are busy" and at that point I just thought if I kept trying the number I could reverse whatever had happened. But I finally gave up. I cried. And when I dialed my grandparents' number I feared that I would hear confirmation of my worst fears.
The phone rang only once at my grandparents' home before I heard the most glorious sound I have ever heard. . .my own mother's voice! Immediately after the bombing the Tulsa federal building, including all judges' chambers, were evacuated. Because all phone lines were jammed, my mom went directly to my grandparents' house. She had been trying me all the while I was trying her.
We both cried. She knew that friends from the court system had lost their lives. And I had never come so close to being faced with the loss of a parent. We also cried for a loss of innocence for our state. Our family is a long line of Oklahomans. We love it here and we have all stayed. Growing up and raising a family in the "bible belt" I think gives you a sense of protection, a sense of safety. And at 9:02 on April 19, 1995 that sense was shattered.
My hope is that in the last 15 years and going forward, we not let anyone shatter us. . .no matter their actions, no matter their hate. I hope that the people who died did not do so in vain. We need never give up and gain strength from love. To me, the Survivor Tree is a great symbol of this hope. And the inscription states it best:
The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.