Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I remember standing in my classroom several miles north of the building – hearing a muffled boom and feeling just a slight tremor. Work stopped, and my students and I ventured several guesses about what could have caused this interruption to our day. Then we went back to work.
We, of course, had no idea at the time that major emotional tremors would continue to echo for the next days, months, and years. The tears and smiles that would, alternately, crush us and raise us back up.
I hesitated to even bring up the subject here. So much has been said and written about that day.
But then I heard the reading of the names.
I had the TV news on in the background while I was working, and I realized that the remembrance ceremony was being televised. Different people were coming up to the microphone and reading the names of the 168 people who lost their lives that day. Each person would read just a few names.
What struck me was this – As each person read a short list of names, there would be one name in the list where the person said “My mother,” “My sister,” “My father,” “My grandfather” . . . Each person had lost a family member in the bombing and was reading that person’s name along with other names. My first thought was – I don’t know if I could do that without breaking down.
So different from the first memorial – or at least what I remember. I remember people reading the names, but there were few people reading, each read many names, and I don’t remember any family members reading names. Maybe they did – I was rather numb during that time.
Yesterday was another reminder to me of resilience and hope – and memories. Memories of loving, laughing, crying – life. Memories that are made each day, each moment. Here were family members – some even children – celebrating the name – the memory – of a precious loved one. Celebrating life.