Loss still felt 14 years after Okla. City bombing
Monday, April 20, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY -- It was 14 years ago when Doris Battle's parents were killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, just two of the 168 people who died during the nation's worst domestic terrorist attack.
"I can't go home and see him anymore," Battle said of her father, Calvin Battle, who died with her mother Peola when the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed on April 19, 1995. Battle said the passage of time has not diminished the loss she still feels.
Battle was among 400 people who gathered Sunday to observe the 14th anniversary of the bombing of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, an attack that also injured hundreds of people. The explosion of a truck loaded with 4,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil tore the face off the building and caused millions of dollars in damage to other downtown structures.
Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 and Terry Nichols is serving multiple life sentences on federal and state convictions for their convictions in the bombing. Prosecutors had said the plot was an attempt to avenge the deaths of about 80 people in the government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier.
Dr. Paul Heath, a retired psychologist with the Veterans Administration and a bombing survivor, attended the ceremony at the bombing memorial, where 168 empty chairs symbolizing the victims sit on a grassy field where the building stood.
"The memory of the bombing is just as clear today as it was the day after the bombing. The memories run just like a video in my head," Heath said, who placed flowers at a granite memorial for survivors like himself.
Retired Marine Staff Sgt. Ted Krey tied American flags to chairs bearing the names of Sgt. Benjamin LaRanzo Davis and Capt. Randolph A. Guzman, killed in the building's Marine Corps recruiting office.
"They're fellow brothers. Marines are like that," said Krey, who was part of a rescue team after the bombing and was a few feet away when rescuers pulled Guzman's body out of the rubble.
Richard Williams, the building's former assistant manager, said it was important that survivors and victims' family members remember both victims and rescuers.
"We will always do this," said Williams, who was seriously injured in the bombing. "We're going to do something every year."
During the ceremony, the crowd observed 168 seconds of silence and survivors and victims' family members read victims' names at the spot that the Rev. Tom Ogburn of First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City called "holy ground."
"In our faith, we found hope," he said. "We were wounded but not broken."
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