In Oklahoma, a time to mourn and a time to dance

At 9:02 am April 19, 1995 the bomb exploded, destroying one side of the federal building, damaging several adjacent buildings, injuring 680 people and killing 168 people, including 19 children.

Until September 11, 2001, it was the deadliest terrorist attack on United States soil; it remains the worst domestic terrorist attack.

The Survivor Tree

An annual event, the Oklahoma Challenge Ballroom Dance competition draws dancers from Oklahoma, surrounding states and as far away as Toronto, Ontario. Many return every year to compete against dancers who have now become dance friends.

The competition occurs at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. Nearby is the Bricktown historic district with trendy restaurants, hotels,clubs, shops and the Chesapeake Arena, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team.

Also not far away is the site of the biggest “challenge” the city and our state has ever faced- the 1995 domestic terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building. On a spring morning in April, a terrorist parked  a rental truck on the street in front of the building; the truck contained a  5000 pound bomb made of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

A morning of terror

At 9:02 am April 19, 1995 the bomb exploded, destroying one side of the federal building, damaging several adjacent buildings, injuring 680 people and killing 168 people, including 19 children.

Until September 11, 2001, it was the deadliest terrorist attack on United States soil; it remains the worst domestic terrorist attack.





A day of remembrance

On April 19, 2000 ,the Oklahoma City National Memorial was dedicated ; the Museum opened a year later.  I have visited several times, and always come away having seen and learned something new. If you ever travel through Oklahoma, I recommend you put this on your must-see list. When you come,  here are some of the images you will see and experience. 

OKC memorial and federal building in the distance
the West Gate of the memorial looking northwest toward the new federal building
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum entrance
Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum entrance
window at the museum
window from the museum overlooking outdoor memorial
Memorial pool and chairs
168 lighted chairs sit on the south lawn of the Memorial.
gold statue shaped like a chair
There is a gold chair for each person who died from the bombing that day.

A lifetime of honor

In the days ,weeks and months following the attack ,we learned all the details about the bombing- the perpetrators, the victims, the rescuers, the survivors.

168 Oklahomans lost their lives there that day, including 19 children.

My husband and I visited the site after the wreckage was imploded and the site was fenced off. The fence became a makeshift memorial, as people left mementos of all kinds- dolls, stuffed animals, photos, pictures, flowers, crafts, flags, shirts, letters.  

We have visited again since the official memorial  and the museum were established on April 19, 2000. Sections of the fence were left intact, and people still leave mementos; others became part of the museum collection.

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A long section of the original fence has been left intact, as well as parts of the original federal building wall.

sections of damaged wall
sections of damaged wall

Until 9/11, it was the deadliest act of terrorism on United States soil.

"We search for the Truth" written on a wall.
On the wall of the Journal Record Building which was also damaged by the blast; the museum now occupies part of it.

The perpetrators were caught and brought to justice. The driver of the truck was convicted, sentenced to death, and died by execution. The another remains in prison for life.

That day in Oklahoma City showed the best  in our state and our country as people, some with no training , risked their lives to help rescue people who were injured and trapped inside. Firefighters and police came from all over the United States to help. People donated food and first aid supplies.

children and adults visiting a wall decorated with handprints
Schools regularly bring students to visit the memorial and museum
colorful hand painted tiles from children
Tiles hand painted by children were sent to the city as a show of support and sympathy.
bright colored flowers along a wall
Pansies are popular in Oklahoma in the fall and spring.

I was proud to be an Oklahoman then and now, and still grieve for the lives we lost that day.

The Survivor Tree
The Survivor Tree, an American elm, survived the blast and is part of the Memorial.


statue of Christ with head bowed
statue of a grieving Christ, in the courtyard of a church across the street from the memorial


“We remember that moment that is framed forever by these twin gates. Our place of remembrance is filled with those symbols (ribbons, angels, flags) and also filled with love-the love of countless Americans whose ideas and support and contributions helped create this beautiful memorial.

On April 19 five years ago the flag of our nation was flying over the Murrah building. It is flying over our memorial today, and flies proudly in our hearts.

For those who perpetrated this act, we have one message:

In America you can speak and vote and complain, but there is no right to maim and bomb and kill…and if you think you’ll bring that flag down, there is your answer.

We are all Oklahomans today, and we are all Americans. May God continue to bless our beloved land. “

Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, April 19, 2000

quote from The Official Record of the Oklahoma City Bombing, published by Oklahoma Today Magazine 

remembering the HEART of health

Dr Aletha

Author: Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

As a family physician, I explore the HEART of HEALTH in my work, recreation, community, and through writing. My blog, Watercress Words, informs and inspires us to live in health. I believe we can turn our health challenges into healthy opportunities. When we do, we can share the HEART of health with our families, communities, and the world. Come explore and share with me.

9 thoughts on “In Oklahoma, a time to mourn and a time to dance”

  1. I am just amazed that I never heard of this. I would have been a senior in high school at the time and I honestly don’t remember learning anything about this time in our nation’s history. What a touching memorial. Thank you so much for sharing with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I glad you now know about it. Initially, I thought it only impacted our state. The next day, when it was all over the national news on TV, I realized otherwise. The Internet and mobile devices were not in common use then, so I think the news was not as wide spread as occurred with 9/11. If you are ever in Oklahoma I recommend you visit the memorial. My photos just do not do it justice.


    1. Yes, even after so many years it’s impossible to fathom how someone could have done it, how one could plan it much less do it. The perpetrator hated our government but killing innocent civilians is evil no matter what. A tragedy that served no purpose. Thanks for looking at my photos.


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