News

Legacy Of The Oklahoma City Bombing

Apr 20, 2015
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on May 19, 1995, exactly one month after the bombing. It was demolished four days later.
Than217 / Wikimedia Commons

What does the Oklahoma City bombing mean now, two decades later? Will the memory and meaning of April 19, 1995, gradually recede into a distant echo?

That's hard to believe as one considers the extensive observances and media coverage this month. The grief and shock of what happened are as palpable as ever: On a sunny Wednesday morning, a terrorist bomb ripped apart the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 men, women and children. Those who saw it will never forget the black smoke rising in the sky, the bloody images of the  injured, and the wreckage of the  building marring the downtown skyline.

This multimedia story, including a video and a podcast, revolves around a question: What has changed because of the bombing? Oklahoma Watch spoke with several experts or leaders about their views on the impact of the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

A class in the assistant principal's old office at Burcham Elementary in Weatherford.
Emily Wendler / KOSU

Oklahoma has gained 40,000 new students since 2008, but funding from the legislature hasn’t kept up with the growth. More students and less money means some schools are running out of space and have been dipping deep in to their savings accounts. They are making do, but it’s at a tipping point for some districts. Either they get more funding and add more space, or the class sizes get bigger and bigger.

Attorneys for Robert Bates released some of the training records Saturday for the 73-year-old volunteer sheriff's deputy charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed suspect in Tulsa.

Family members and friends of Oklahoma City bombing victims gathered at the Oklahoma City National Memorial to commemorate the bombing's 20th anniversary.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Updated 10:31 a.m.: Ceremony concludes as dignitaries, survivors reflect

As rain started to fall on the Oklahoma City National Memorial Sunday morning, former President Bill Clinton delivered powerful remarks that drew a standing ovation from the thousands who gathered to mark the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

"For a whole country, you burned away all the petty squabbles in which we engage, leaving only our basic humanity. I mostly came here to thank you today," Clinton said.

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill Friday expanding the options for future executions. The new procedure uses an inert gas and will replace lethal injections should the Supreme Court of the United States rule the state’s current protocol unconstitutional.  

The process replaces an inmate’s available oxygen with nitrogen through a mask or bag placed over the face.

The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

The bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City killed 168 people - including 19 children. It injured hundreds more, and forever shaped the community.

April 19, 1995 started as an idyllic spring morning - clear skies, calm winds - better than most Wednesdays during the state’s usually-turbulent severe weather season. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Workers showed up to their jobs, and went about their regular routines.

That all changed at 9:02 a.m.

Oklahoma's longest-serving Congressman led the state's delegation on the House floor in Washington Thursday to reflect on the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as the 20th anniversary approaches.

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas was a freshman lawmaker representing Oklahoma's now-defunct Sixth Congressional District that included downtown Oklahoma City.

An American Red Cross volunteer hugs a victim after the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.
Provided / American Red Cross

All this week we’ve looked back at the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building as the 20th anniversary approaches – from some of the lingering mental health issues, to a new play that tells survivors’ stories, to how the recovery from the tragedy sparked downtown Oklahoma City’s renaissance.

On April 19, four employees of the Oklahoma Historical Society were injured while working in the Journal Record building across the street from the Murrah building. They ended up in four different hospitals, with little to no way to coordinate communication. That’s one of the biggest challenges the American Red Cross faced that day, according to The Journal Record’s Kirby Lee Davis:

It's been nearly 20 years since a bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. The aftermath of the tragedy continues to reverberate through the city and shape the character of the state.

Friday morning at 11 a.m. KGOU will debut a new documentary called That April Morning: The Oklahoma City Bombing. We've produced this sneak peak:

Jackie Spinner interviews a soldier in Iraq during her time as a Washington Post correspondent.
Provided / Jackie Spinner

In 2003, the Associated Press issued its report on human rights abuses taking place at the U.S.-held Abu Ghraib prison. Jackie Spinner was at the prison a year later to report on the story for The Washington Post when she was nearly kidnapped by Al-Qaeda members.

“It was June 14, 2004. It’s a day I’ll never forget,” Spinner said.

The event inspired the title for her 2006 book about her experiences reporting in Iraq during the war, Tell Them I Didn’t Cry

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