Ten years ago about this moment (as I'm typing this paragraph the anniversary will occur) we were getting ready for chapel on the campus of OBU. It was our annual Hyde Park Day chapel when candidates for positions in the student government speak and otherwise the students recognize folk for their service. I was running for SGA Vice President and so was very busy that morning. Chapel begins at 10. As folk were coming in, my good friend Matt Miles came up on the platform and told us there had been an explosion in downtown OKC, but he didn't know any details. We went on with our service. At some point, I guess someone passed a note to Pancho Romero who was the Jazz Band conductor and who was leading music that day. At the very end of chapel he walked up to the microphone and read a message that the federal building had been bombed. The entire room sat in stunned silence.
After chapel there is annually a lunch for the SGA leadership, candidates, and Student Development staff. As we sat at lunch, my table suddenly realized that we'd have to make changes in the Spring Affair show that was already in rehearsal and would be that Saturday night. That show had a Superheros theme and the entire plot of the show centered around a bomb threat. We begin even in that lunch to make changes to the script.
My dear friend Ann Miller and I left the lunch and went over to the upstairs tv lounge, which was oddly empty (the downstairs one was packed), and got our first glimpses of the devastation. I went back to the apartment and skipped class that day, watching the hours and hours and hours of broadcast until we were all so numb. It was hard to think or to feel at first because it was impossible to comprehend. And we were all afraid. What if there was more? We sat near I-40 and were a pretty prominent spot. Most of us had never known that sort of fear before.
I still think the OKC bombing has a horror not contained in other disasters. We expect our foreign enemies to conspire to attack us. And I think we somewhat realize they'll go after major cities and prominent targets. But this was one of our own people. In the heartland of the country. In Oklahoma City for goodness sake. Bombing a building that though it had some law enforcement was most full of secretaries and functionaries and children. What horror.