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What do you remember about the day of the Oklahoma City bombing?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on April 19, 2005

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Photo of Elizabeth Rowley

“I remember that what I found the most disconcerting about it was that the terrorists were from the United States.”

Photo of Glenn Elmer

“It’s hard to realize, since 9-11, how horrible and big it seemed at the time.”

Photo of Sarah Scholle

“I remember how horrible it was that there was a day care in that building, and I remember the picture of the fireman carrying out the baby.”

Photo of Sam Jones

“Shock. Just shock and a lot of sadness. It was just a hard-to-believe kind of a thing.”


ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 13 years, 1 month ago

But they have never been able to spit out the words "Christian terrorist".

That's probably because such activities are very UN-Christian. I couldn't imagine Jesus blowing up a daycare center full of kids. I remember being horrified that kids were in the building and watching the rescue attempts in the precarious conditions of the destroyed structure. I also remember being very impressed by the police sketch; it looked exactly like McVeigh. The guy who gave the description to the police had a great memory.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

goatdog - that's because the term Christian terrorist is an oxymoron.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

I remeber feelings scared and shocked. I was very young at that time and did not understand what was happening. For a long time I did not feel safe.

ms_canada 13 years, 1 month ago

'muslim terrorists' , 'christian terrorists'. Are there only two classes of terrorists now? Type in terrorists on Google and see what history you will get. There are so many different types of terrorists. The Red Brigade, the Mossad, the Tamil Tigers, the Shinning Path, the IRA, the Chechyn Freedom Fighters, and way, way back in time The Zealots. Just a few, I have named off the top of my head. As Sunlover said, 'complete and utter sadness'. There is so much hatred in this world. So many things to fight about. So many things to get upset and insensed at. As the song of a few years back said, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love, that's the only thing that there is just too little of" Terrorists come in all shapes and sizes. They are sad, sick and misguided. May God save us all from hatred.

BunE 13 years, 1 month ago

I remember someone yelled "They'll be hangin' A-Rabs in Enid tonight!"


Jillster 13 years, 1 month ago

I remember the exact moment when I heard about the bombing. I was at my desk at work when the phone rang...a woman who worked in another department than mine remembered that my father was a federal employee in Oklahoma, and was calling to see if he was okay. Thankfully, my father lived and worked in Tulsa, not in OKC. I had no idea of the devastation and huge loss of life until I made it home and saw it on television. I could hardly comprehend the enormity of it all, or why anyone would ever even think of doing something like that.

I had forgotten that I had ever even mentioned my father or what he did for a living to that co-worker, and I was touched that she remembered, and thought to call me. It's tragic that a hate-filled heart could destroy so many lives, but reassuring that there are loving hearts amongst us, too, who truly care.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

I was mowing the lawn when I heard the news on the radio. I lived in Fort Smith at the time, not too distant from OKC, so I thought it was just regional news and that a gas main had blown or something. When I was told that it was a deliberate act, I remember thinking that whoever did it should be lowered slowly into a wood shredder. Lethal injection seemed like an awfully quiet way to go.

And whatever one may say about Timothy McVeigh's religious beliefs, he was not a Christian. He said he wasn't sure if there was an afterlife. The last thing he did before his execution was to distribute copies of the poem "Invictus". I struggle to see how "I thank whatever gods may be/ for my unconquerable soul" and "I am the master of my fate/ I am the captain of my soul" accords with Christian belief.

BunE 13 years, 1 month ago

Christian Terrorist is not an oxymoron. There is one of them on trial right now for the olympic bombing, a number of clinic bombings and other such acts of terror.

McVeigh was a nut job on the same frequency as Mohammed Atta.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

My point was, Christian and terrorist are now used as labels, they are not, they are lifestyles. The Christian lifestyle (following the teachings of Jesus Christ) and the terrorist lifestyle (whomever or whatever they are following) are in no way compatible.

As a Christian I am against many things that have become an accepted part of our society, but I would never resort to violence to stop them. The teachings of Christ include loving your enemy, turning the other cheek and walking the extra mile.

The true test of a Christian can be found in a simple scriptural question, "What think ye of Christ?" When I hear terrorists describe their "religion" and what they know god wants them to do I know they are not talking about the Christ or the God of the Bible.

Evil acts by any other name are still just evil acts.

jonas 13 years, 1 month ago

Calleach: That's a very simplified, idealistic interpretation. . . I wish it were that easy. On the very base of things, the teachings of the Quran, which expressedly forbids the taking of innocent lives, should ALSO be in conflict with the tenets of terrorism, but that has not stopped the acts from taking place. If you were to take Christianity, and subtract from it's ranks those that deliberately deviate from it's teachings, even on a regular basis, there would be far fewer Christians. Same with any religion. Really, if you extend the faith into the old testement, it becomes quite easy to religiously kill innocents.

I don't remember anything about the day OKC was bombed. To be honest, at the time I probably thought that I didn't care. I was only 16, after all, and a rather bitter, rebellious 16 at that.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

[As an aside: a new Pope has just been elected, although his name has not been announced and he has not appeared at the balcony yet.]

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

Those of us who thought that the next Pope might be from Central America or Africa were wrong. Cardinal Joesph Ratzinger from Germany is now Pope Benedict XVI. He is about 20 years older than John Paul II was when elected.

kansas 13 years, 1 month ago

Yes, fangorn, he is about 20 years older than JPII was when he was elected pope back in 1978.

Okay, now explain something to me.........

I read somewhere that fully one-third of all the cardinals in Rome weren't allowed to vote for any pope because they were considered to be too old. Evidentally, the is a rule that says any cardinal 80 years old or older is too old to vote. Now why that is so, I don't know. Well, anyway, given that rule, the man that the voting-age cardinals picked was a 78 year old German cardinal! somebody please explain to me the "logic" behind this man being elected pope, considering what I just said. And suffice to say.....this pope, given his advanced age, won't reign for nearly as long as the previous pope did! If he does, he'll be 104 when he dies. And it seems highly unlikely that he'll live that long! Maybe he will, but I doubt it! I'm just sitting here right now, reading about this new pope on the Internet, and I just can't help but scratch my head and wonder!

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

We all deviate but if one deliberately deviates on a regular basis it is not their lifestyle.

OKC - I too was stunned, my first thoughts were of my sister who was at that time a chemical engineer for the oklahoma city water department and made regular trips to a lab in the downtown area. I was not able to reach her by phone, she finally found a way to get word out that she was okay and working to assist others in the blast zone. She had been delayed that morning and had not reached the lab at her usual time. The lab was destroyed and many workers were injured, although I do not remember any lab personnel losing their lives.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 13 years, 1 month ago

Jonas: I don't think that Ceallach was giving a "very simplified, idealistic interpretation". Why do people feel the need to make everything so complex. I believe that she was simply stating that Christianity, or whatever religion you prefer (Buddhism, Islam, etc.) do not teach hate. If you are a believer in that religion than you would not resort to hate, or violence, to spread a message. Those that do are not following the teachings of their religion and, therefore, are not following their religion.

As for OKC, I was in college. I came home from a class and walked in to find my roommates huddled around the television. I asked what happened and they told me that somebody blew up a building in Oklahoma City. I remember thinking "Why would anybody want to blow up a building in Oklahoma - there's nothing there." I then sat and watched the news coverage for the next couple of hours.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

:) jonas, you are not the first person who has considered me simple minded and idealistic :)

I usually say "thanks" -- there was a time B.C. when some (okay MANY) thought I complicated matters by always being skeptical and pessimistic. I've come a long way baby!

craigers 13 years, 1 month ago

Can anybody explain the logic of the pope choosing a different name than his own? I just really don't understand all that is happening with that.

StirrrThePot 13 years, 1 month ago

I came back to my dorm from class that morning and it was on every TV. I couldn't believe it. I remember my folks called saying they sent my Dad home form the state courthouse, where he'd been all morning on a case. It was so unreal, and then to find out it was an American who did it...I remember thinking, "What is this country coming to?" Boy, if I only knew then what I know now...

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

one_more_bob: roflmao!

kansas: I heard commentary over the last couple of weeks that an older cardinal was likely to be elected, for the very reason that doing so would result in a shorter papacy. As for the age limit on voting cardinals, I have no idea.

craigers: The selection of a "pope" name is a tradition that goes back a long way. I've always thought it reflected the leaving behind of an old life and the assuming of a new role, like when Lew Alcindar became Kareem Abdul Jabar but on a grander scale. I could be wrong about that. Any practicing Catholics (or others more knowledgeable than me) out there who can shed some light on this?

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

I can't remember what I was doing when the bombing at O.K.C. occurred. But I remember very vividly what I was doing when J.F.K. was assassinated, when Mt. St. Hellens blew, and when Chernobyl melted down. Odd - have I just become used to the horrors of todays world?

Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope just a bit ago. I have concerns about a pope that was a member of the Nazi party - maybe I'm not used to the horrors yet.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

Strong words. I have not heard that before, please share your source.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

My, my, I think we are all being very judgemental on this subject. KKK and nazi's, how did we get here? Regardless of whether or not the above accusations are true (and I am not familiar with either of them) lets step back and remember if they are true, people can change and do not jump to conclusions one or both could be a misunderstanding.

ms_canada 13 years, 1 month ago

oxymoron - figure of speech in which opposite or contradictory ideas or terms are combined. well said calleach - to combine Christian and terrorist is most certainly an oxymoron. A Christian could not possibly be a terrorist and the opposite is true also. The same can be said about the term muslim terrorist being an oxymoron. The terrorist element in islam vociferously claim to be following the will of Allah but have corrupted the meaning of Jihad to suit their own purposes. A true muslim would not be a terrorist. In islam there are many nominal believers, wishy washy at best, who are being recruited by the militant element thereby swelling their ranks in such countries as Holland and France. This is quite scary to me. Ask yourself, is this happening in N. America?

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

Craigers: As far as why the Pope takes a new name, he can take whatever name he chooses. There is no law that mandates he take a new name. The tradition began in 533 when the Roman Priest Mercury was elected. He took the name John II so the church would not have a Pope named after a Roman God.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

One more thought for today, Pope Paul instituted the age requirement out of regard for the elders so they did not have to make the trip to Rome. Even though they don't vote they are often consulted by the Cardinals before the conclave begins.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

one_more_bob, sorry for my lack of clarity (comes with being simple:), it was for remember_username

Liberty 13 years, 1 month ago

I remember on the Oklahoma news that they were reporting the presence of 2 or 3 more bombs strapped inside of the building that the FBI was removing (before anyone else heard about them) and then you never heard about these explosives again and the story changed after that... That means that the building was not blown up from outside, but from within... to do the real damage that would take out the steel structure of the building, a fertilizer bomb is not capable of doing that type of destruction because the speed of the explosion is not fast enough to damage steel. The bomb out front was for cover only.

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

Ceallach - the comment originated from a AP or Reuters news site that summarized the profiles of the various electables. The comment admittedly deserves clarification. The profile indicated Ratzinger was a Hitler Youth (although I'm not sure what choice one had regarding that) and later was drafted into German service. While it is true that many German soldiers were not members of the Nazi party most Hitler Youth were. In either case I worked closely with a Physicist for many years who's family (all Catholics) fled Germany in '36 rather than submit to Nazi policies.

Whether or not Cardinal Ratzinger believed or disagreed with German policy at the time I think the Catholic Church is risking criticism more "flavored" than mine. When I think of the honor and integrity of all those pacifists who were imprisoned or killed because they refused service that was against their beliefs - a man who joined such an organization because it was compulsory doesn't get my respect.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

raven: thanks for the answers re: pope name changes and voting ages for cardinals.

The new Pope turned 18 about 3 weeks before V-E Day. He was drafted like a lot of Germans were to serve the purposes of the Third Reich. He was enrolled in the Hitler Youth when the Nazi party no longer gave boys a choice. He was released due to his intention to study for the priesthood, which 4 years later did not exempt him from being drafted. He never joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei).

The Senator to whom one_more_bob refers is Robert Byrd of West Virginia. He was a kleagle (recruiter) for the KKK when he was younger. Presumably, he no longer shares their views.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

Fangorn: Was this knowledge you already happen to know or did you have to research it before answering? I ask you this in all seriousness.

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

Raven - I agree that people can change. With that assertion and with the Christian tenet of forgiveness and turning a new leaf perhaps it is fitting the new Pope has a "controversial" youth. I wish I could say it is not my business as a non-Catholic. However, the position of Pope has a considerable affect on my life, more so since the lines between religion and politics have become so blurred.

raven 13 years, 1 month ago

r_u: I certainly agree that a "contraversial youth" is important and can affect us all. I was simply saying that with little facts displayed here we cannot make those types of accusations. However, if Fangorn's answer is correct, I am satisfied with it and no longer concerned. As a Catholic, before becoming too concerned I was going to do research myself. I still will, however Fangorn seemed very sure of his answers and for at least the next several hours before I can get to it, I am taking his word for it.

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

I agree with r_u. Although I am not Catholic, the Pope is more than a religious leader, he is a powerful world figure, capable of impacting the direction of millions of people. As such, I hope the world will receive reassurance from him regarding that period of his life.

Chances are very slim that he would have attained and maintained his position as 2nd to John Paul II if there were doubts among his peers regarding racism or the value he places on human life.

Liberty 13 years, 1 month ago

If you have real player, you can listen to the Oklahoma news reports about other explosives in the Murrah building in a song at:

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

raven & r_u: I already knew about Robert Byrd and, despite my many policy disagreements with him, accept the sincerity of his change of views regarding the KKK.

I had to research the new Pope's background. I read that he had been a US POW because he had served in the German army. I did the math from his date of birth and thought "Good Lord! They must have said 'Happy birthday, Joe. Now raise your right hand'", which is essentially what happened. Early on, membership in the Hitler Youth was voluntary. After about 1941, that was no longer the case. Obviously I had to do some quick reading around to get some of this information after the announcement in Rome. If anyone has any additional, or even contradictory, information, please post it. I want us to have accurate information. But that's what I have for now. [Man, I really thought the next Pope would be from Central America!]

ms_canada 13 years, 1 month ago

Raven - you can usually rely on the veracity of the comments of fangorn.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

I just read Ceallach's last post, and I agree. Especially considering the steps John Paul II took toward reconciliation with the Jews and his apologies for the Catholics Church's anti-Semitism over the centuries, I couldn't imagine him having an actual, unreformed Nazi as his "right-hand man".

[btw, Ceallach, were you able to find any of the books on Celtic history we discussed last week? I'm heading to the library now, which made me think of it.]

Ceallach 13 years, 1 month ago

Fangorn, I am heading there this weekend. Intended to on Saturday but my weekend was too hectic. I am definitely looking forward to the reading. Thanks.

remember_username 13 years, 1 month ago

Raven - I am comfortable with what Fangorn has found, but there is little there as well. I did not have the time to look further into the new Popes background than that of the BBC report (it wasn't the AP or Reuters afterall). I am still leery of the lack of information and would like to know more about his activities (or lack of) in the Hitler Youth. This was a very bad organization meant to mold the German youth to a certain way of thinking. Ideally we would be given the chance to see and hear him tell us about this time in his life in his own words so we could judge for ourselves. That way one could know more than the brief commentary from Fangorn or myself on the subject.

Liberty 13 years, 1 month ago

KNS, listen to the song in the previous post about Oklahoma City Murrah building reports. You need real player to listen to the song/report. I leave it to your own determination.

BunE 13 years, 1 month ago

Benedict XVI was pressed into service as an AA "helper" until age 18 when he was sent to the Austrian Frontier. There he deserted. Went home, was picked up by the Americans, He was a POW for about 7-8 weeks then he went to the seminary.

German? yes. nazi? no.

charliebear1977 13 years, 1 month ago

First of all how did todays question become about the pope? As to my comment, on April 19, 1995 I was seven months pregnant with my son, and I was still in high school. I didn't watch tv at home that morning but when I got to school, they had tvs on in every classroom. The first thing I seen on tv was the picture of the firefighter carrying out the redheaded little girl I think I heard her name was Jessica. Being pregnant that really scared me and broke my heart at the same time, to think someone could do this to children, no less the adults. My prayers to this day are still with all of them.

Fangorn 13 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, Charlie(bear)! The subject change was my fault. After John Paul died, we discussed what region of the world would produce his successor. I injected a remark earlier as an "oh, by the way" once it was known.

BunE: I've done some additional reading and everything accords fairly well with your summary. I didn't really find anything to add to my earlier comments.

r_u: I'm sure his life will be thoroughly scrutinized over the next few weeks (oh, wait, it's the 21st century, make that "the next few hours"). If there are any disturbing details, I'm sure they'll be forthcoming. I'm sure the other cardinals were aware of his history. (I would hope so, at least!)

flashd423 13 years, 1 month ago

Timothy McVay is a horrible perosn. he should be locked up and not let out..............................oh he's dead.................yippeeeeeeeeeeeee

jonas 13 years, 1 month ago

calleach: simplified and simple-minded are not the same, but I'll stand by idealistic. (It's not a bad thing, either).

HKP: Because nothing about religion is simple! And, as I said before, more or less, there were a LOT, and continue to be a LOT of self-professed Christians, throughout history to the present, that deviated severely from some of Christ's messages.

Not unique to Christianity, of course.

jonas 13 years, 1 month ago

Fangorn: You may think that the Pope is on a bigger scale than Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but you must not have seen them play one on one!

The pope did have a mean drive to the hole, though.

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