How the Oklahoma City bombing changed 4 women’s lives

Twenty three year old Madison Naylor was among the infants being cared for at the YMCA daycare located next door to the federal building at the time the bomb exploded. The building was heavily damaged but she and the other children survived.

gold memorial chairs surrounded by trees at the Oklahoma National Memorial

April 19, 2019 marked the 24th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City is the capital of my home state and was my home for 7 years while I attended medical school and completed my residency in Family Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

From the bombing, 168 people died, hundreds were injured, and our state and our nation were changed forever. Never had there been such an act of horror and carnage on U.S. soil.

I’ve written here about the bombing and showed you pictures from the site which is now a memorial and museum. I’m doing that again but this time with news about 4 women who have turned the event into something positive.


a past survivor, now a future doctor

Twenty three year old Madison Naylor was among the infants being cared for at the YMCA daycare located next door to the federal building at the time the bomb exploded. The building was heavily damaged but she and the other children survived.

“I remember when I was very young, I had a feeling that I had been really close to death, …I hope I can be something good that came from something so horrific.”

Madison Naylor, bombing survivor
some of the memorials hung on the the fence that surrounded the bombing site have been left intact.

Madison grew up learning about the bombing and about medicine. Her father and aunt are both physicians, and now she is a first-year medical student at my alma mater, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

“I know the bombing is still a part of people’s lives here. It’s humbling to be associated with such a tragic event. I hope that I can be a positive face going forward.”

Madison Naylor, medical student
The SURVIVOR TREE remained standing when everything around it was destroyed by the bomb. It survives to this day.

“I just want to be the kind of person who leaves the world a better place than I found it.”

Madison Naylor, MS1

The bombing changed not only Oklahoma City, but also our state, and our entire country. It was the worst terrorist event on U.S. soil until 9/11. All of us were touched in some way, but especially 3 women who worked in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

“None of us was thinking about studying disasters…But we kept studying …the Oklahoma City survivors over the years..Then started helping with disasters elsewhere.”

Betty Pfefferbaum, M.D., J.D. department chairman
This window in the museum overlooks the memorial.

Dr. Pfefferbaum, along with colleagues Phebe Tucker, M.D., and Sandra Allen, Ph.D. treated and studied trauma victims from the bombing and shared their findings with other doctors who use it to treat survivors around the world.

Lessons learned from the OKC disaster trauma

  • Disasters affect many different groups of people beyond those at the site-family, first responders, the community
  • Terrorism victims have higher than average rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression than people who never experienced it.
  • Some people develop a biological response to disaster causing a higher resting heart rate than those not affected.

Dr. Allen developed an intervention to help children of trauma process their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes children think they have to hide their feelings or act out when they hare hurting. This program helps them process those feelings and learn how to cope. You can read the details of this program at this link-

Listen to the Children

At a church across the street from the memorial

The work has rippled out into the world in ways that none of them could have imagined…

OU Medicine magazine
Words written on the wall of the former Journal Record Building which sat across from the federal building. These words, painted by a rescue team who searched for survivors that day,remain as a silent witness of the horrible event.

photos in this post taken by Dr. Aletha in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Thanks to OU Magazine and KFOR for sharing these stories.

sharing the HEART of health

Dr Aletha

lemons into lemonade

I am delighted that Janice Wald, author and blogger at Mostly Bloggging, called this her “favorite post ” when I submitted it at her Inspire Me Monday Linky Party. Please visit Janice’s blog where you can learn about writing, blogging, productivity, marketing, and more.

It isn’t often that I see news-related posts left here and even rarer that, when I do, they are so inspirational. The post really exemplifies the expression, “Turn lemons into lemonade.”

Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging

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.

3 thoughts on “How the Oklahoma City bombing changed 4 women’s lives”

  1. Thank you for sharing these “reminders” When tragedy comes we look at it like postcards and not a moving picture. God sees how He will take what is happen and turn into something useful. The enemy meant it for evil – God turned it into good.


    1. Thank you for the “reminder” Chris, I had not thought of it that way. Your reminder also helps me, as I am just now dealing with a “postcard” in my life that doesn’t look appealing, so I need to consider what God will turn it into. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insights.


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