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Apr 19 2005

Ten Years Ago Today...


Ten years ago today at 9:02 am I was sitting in my office in Oklahoma City when I heard an explosion that literally shook my desk. I was on the twelfth floor of a twelve story building and my first thought was that a boiler had exploded on the roof or possibly a tanker truck had exploded at street level immediately in front of my building. I would have doubted the explosion could have come from a block away and thought it impossible that it had happened four blocks away.

I got up from my desk and walked out of my office where I met a coworker who had just left his office. I had been with the firm for just five weeks and asked my coworker jokingly, “Does this happen often here?” He smiled and responded that it did not.

A secretary whose station faced north alerted everyone to the cloud of smoke which appeared to be rising from the Federal Court House three blocks north of our building.

In the aerial photo, my building, the Robinson Renaissance is at the bottom with my office in yellow, the Federal Bankruptcy Court House is three blocks north with the red roof, the Federal Court House is attached to the north side of it and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building is represented by the top red rectangle.


At this point it was apparent that this was a significant event and it appeared that the Federal Court House which I had just been in the previous week was the site of the explosion. My father, in Illinois, was always on top of the news often alerting me to Oklahoma weather conditions prior to my learning of them. I realized that sometime during the day he would hear about an explosion at a court house in Oklahoma City. I decided to call him to let him know that I was OK so that he and, more likely my mother, would not worry. I called home, my father answered and I relayed to him what little we knew or thought we knew at the time and assured him that I was alright. He was very thankful that I had called and said that he’d relay the information to my mom and sister.

I then called my wife, fiancée at the time, in Tulsa to tell her the same information. Unlike my dad, her attitude was much more casual and she initially refused to relay the information to her parents. Within five minutes after the explosion I had notified those that mattered of the events and that I was not involved which was a good thing since ten minutes later the phone lines in and out of Oklahoma City were so jammed that no calls got through for the next day or so.

Everyone in the office was glued to the windows watching the smoke rise and emergency vehicles converge. Several radios were on but they offered little more information than what we could already observe. The father of a young associate in the office was a federal judge and at this point in time we still thought that the explosion had taken place in the Federal Court House. The associate was indecisive about what she should do as she was obviously very concerned about her father. She expressed a desire to go to the court house but was hesitant. I offered to go with her and she accepted. She and I made our way towards the Federal Court House but were intercepted by police who were already in the process of cordoning off the area. After wandering around the perimeter for a while we eventually ran into her father in the lobby of a building. He was in the process of looking for his two daughters who worked downtown. Remember, by then, there was no phone service.

I eventually went back to the office where after a while we were all told to go home. Even four blocks away there were many building with windows broken. The severity of the damage away from the federal building is one of the lesser known effects of the Oklahoma City bombing. People who toured the area shortly afterwards often commented how they didn’t realize the extent of the damage to other buildings. Several other buildings had collapsed or subsequently had to be torn down due to structural damage and over 300 buildings suffered some form of damage including ones as far as ten blocks away.


The diagram shows the Murrah Building in the center with damaged buildings in brown.

Posted by Don |


  1. #1
    Betsy said on April 19, 2005 | Reply

    Thank you for sharing your memories.

    I was living in North Carolina at the time of the bombing. We were devastated by the event, but not to the degree of those of you living in Oklahoma.

    When 9/11 happened, I was living in Tulsa. I felt saddened by my inability to emotionally connect with what was happening. We were shocked, scared, but felt apart from the event. It was so unreal, so like a movie, that it was hard to process that it had actually happened.

    So we went to OKC and visited the museum and memorial. Seeing firsthand the horror, pain and shock of that event helped us to connect with what the people in NY were feeling. The OKC memorial is such a mix of sadness and strength, horror and beauty.

    It's important to remember and honor the heroes that rise up from a horror like this, and not to just relive the evil. In every circumstance where evil seems to triumph, good always shows how resilient it is, and that it exists in our friends, neighbors and strangers.

  2. Thanks for the reflections and telling your story. I have been to ground zero twice in NYC. Once at New Years Eve 2001. Tears were unstoppable.

    Oklahoma City doesn't get the same kind of attention, I think, because it was one of our own that did the deed. Proof that it is impossible to stop a small collection of like minded individuals with determination, I'm sad to say.

  3. #3
    anstranger said on April 19, 2005 | Reply

    I'll always remeber this day myself. I was sitting at home in Yukon in front of the computer,when the windows shook and heard a rumble. Wondered what it was because it wasn't cloudy and I don't remeber any storms being forecasted. Asked the wife if she had heard it and we both wondered what it was. There was no futher sounds so we thought it might have been a tremor and didn't worry about it any futher. Fifteen minutes later her mom called to tell us that there had been a gas explosion downtown and things were serious down there. We turned on the TV and was shocked by what they showed. I said that wasn't a gas explosion that was something else and then the story started unfolding.I didn't know anybody at the time that worked down there and wasn't to worried about it but the horror that one of our own could comit such a deed was hard to except.

  4. wow, thanks for sharing...

    thanks for stopping by Posted Note as well...

    Have a great week!

  5. #5
    Janet said on April 25, 2005 | Reply

    I am so very sorry that you had to experience such a horiffic event in your life. I have a sister who lived in Manhattan when the Twin Towers were hit. I had no idea if she survived at the time. Luckily she wasn't near the buildings at the time. She has since moved to the same town that I live in. Take care.

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An April 19 roundup from dustbury.com

Some of what's being said about today and what it meant to those who said it. See-Dubya, Patterico's Pontifications: They murdered 168 good people ten years ago today. And they... Read More


Much has been written by those who were in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Rather than try to improve on their work, or even try to meaningfully excerpt it, I'll send you their way. They are all must-reads. Jan, the Happy Homemaker was picked up by a ... Read More

Someone Who Was There from The Palmetto Pundit

I realize this post comes a few days later than it should have, but I stumbled upon this story last night and thought it was too good and too relevant not to share. Everyone knows how they felt on April 19, 1995 when they heard the news of the explos... Read More


What follows is my blog entry from the 10th anniversary. My wife and I had visited the memorial a few days before, when we were in town for the Oklahoma Republican Convention. I don't think I can improve upon what was written by those who were there. I... Read More