Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where Were You?

Eighth grade, English I, Mrs. Graham's class.

Clearly I am referring to where I was when the bombing at the Murrah building. It was a Wednesday.

That Friday my mom and I went to Oklahoma City for the weekend because I was performing at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. I remember being at dinner on 63rd and watching the death toll rising.

Who can forget the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer of firefighter Chris Fields carrying out poor little Baylee Almon? Can you believe that she would be driving now if this atrocity had not happened? Thinking about which colleges to go to. Planning for prom. The bombing happened the day after her first birthday. Do you think they had her party planned for the following Saturday?

Can you even begin to imagine being excited for your baby girl's first birthday party and then lose her a few days before? I think as I reflect on this, with as much desire as I have to be a mother, it is harder to get a grasp of the evil that plotted and executed this act.

As the years passed after the bombing I have as many memories.

My sophomore year Mark Medoff premiered a play at Ardmore Little Theatre: A Christmas Carousel. The story, based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, centered around the bombing, with Scrooge played by woman, specifically played by deaf actress Phyllis Frelich. This was when my interest in American Sign Language returned (I've always loved ASL and can remember an interest since I was little). The show was amazing.

Three years later, my freshman year in college, I was part of the theatre department (albeit just by taking a Stage Crafts class with a professor that wanted to prove the point that non majors could be an asset to the department) and they were doing A Christmas Carousel, again with Phyllis starring. The show had changed some in the three years since it premiered in Ardmore, but it had only gotten better. The scenery was very simple, designed by Phyllis' husband, and the infamous fence was a part of it. I was honored to be the assistant stage manager for this amazing show. The show is written in an amazing way where the entire show is spoken and signed simultaneously. One of the most awe inspiring moments was that the ghost of Christmas past looks at Scrooge and says "9:02 that morning...boom", one night during a dress rehearsal we looked down and it was 9:02 pm. It happened like that every night.

That semester I was also taking an architecture class (yeah I was a little major challenged that semester). We were honored to have Torrey Butzer, the wife of the husband and wife team that designed the memorial. We got to see all her sketches. I still remember President Clinton dedicating the memorial on April 19, 2000.

I remember going to Mexico with friends in high school and some of the locals in the market asking where we were from. When we responded Oklahoma they said "ah yes, Oklahoma, big boom."

I am sad that my state is remembered by many only by this act of evil, as we have a lot more to offer, however I am proud of the way our state pulled together for one another following this disaster. I am proud to be an Oklahoman on this day more than any other.

Two friends posted this on facebook today, and I have to share it as well. President Clinton said this April 23, 1995:
"If anybody thinks that Americans are mostly mean and selfish, they ought to come to Oklahoma. If anybody thinks Americans have lost the capacity for love and caring and courage, they ought to come to Oklahoma."
I know my children will ask where I was when April 19 happened.

Eighth grade, English I, Mrs. Graham's class.

Those of us that remember are a part of history. Like those that can answer "where were you when Pearl Harbor happened" or "where were you when Kennedy was shot," we are a part of history. It is crazy to think of how many people I know that weren't even born when this happened and how many don't remember it because they were too young.

If you have never been to the memorial you should go, it truly is one of the most powerful places ever. If you can talk to someone who worked on the site, listen to their story.

April 19, 1995: we will never forget.

I remember where I was, where were you?

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