Lessons learned from OKC bombing
BY MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer
Sunday, April 11, 2010
11/09/12 at 2:16 PM
Like every Oklahoman who's old enough, Kyle Genzer remembers exactly where he was when he heard the news.
His uncle came to take him out of a second-hour reading class in the eighth grade at Wellston Middle School, 40 minutes from downtown Oklahoma City.
Some kind of explosion — probably a gas leak, his uncle explained — had damaged the federal building where Genzer's mother worked.
It took hours to find out that the damage was done by a bomb and several days to know for sure that 32-year-old Jamie Genzer was dead.
"This year is the tipping point," says Kyle Genzer, now a history teacher at a middle school in Mannford, 30 miles west of Tulsa.
"I was 14 when my mother died, and the bombing was 15 years ago. I've now lived longer without her than with her."
His students have reached a sort of tipping point, as well.
Oklahoma middle-school students used to have their own memories of that day, even if they were very young at the time, but not anymore.
Now, all of Genzer's students were born after April 19, 1995.
As the state commemorates the 15th anniversary, a whole new generation is approaching adulthood without any indelible memory of the Oklahoma City bombing.
"It redefined how we see ourselves as a community," Genzer says, "and how the rest of America sees us."
As a history teacher, Genzer enthusiastically endorsed House Bill 2750, a new state law mandating that the bombing be included in public school curricula.
Gov. Brad Henry signed the bill last week.
"Most of today's school children weren't even born when that day dramatically changed our history," Henry says. "It's essential for them and the generations of students that follow to learn the significance of this horrific event."
Around the anniversary date each year, the Genzer family visits the Oklahoma City Memorial to leave yellow roses — his mother's favorite — along with photos of the grandchldren she never met, including Genzer's own 7-year-old son.
"He calls her 'Mimi,' a name he came up with himself," Genzer says. "To him, it's going to seem like ancient history, and that's why you have to teach about it."
Even before HB 2750 passed, survivors and victims' families were making sure that young Oklahomans understand the bombing.
Lori Neace was pregnant with her first child when the bombing killed her younger sister, 27-year-old Jill Randolph.
A Tulsa native who had gone to work at the Federal Employees Credit Union in Oklahoma City, Randolph was in a third-floor conference room when the bomb destroyed the nine-story building.
Rescuers found her body in a section of the rubble that came to be known as "The Pit," a particularly dangerous pile of shifting debris. She was the 101st victim recovered out of 168 dead.
"The family was all waiting together," Neace remembers. "Every time the phone rang we would all get quiet, hoping it was the call we had been waiting for, hoping they had found her."
Several years ago, disturbed that one Oklahoma history textbook included barely a single page about the bombing, Neace began giving guest-lectures at Tulsa-area schools.
The teachers usually go over the basic facts — that a truck bomb exploded at 9:02 a.m.; that Timothy McVeigh was put to death in 2001 for carrying out the attack; and that co-conspirator Terry Nichols is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Neace herself focuses mainly on the statewide response after the bombing: the rescuers who worked tirelessly to find victims, the survivors who overcame injuries and the countless Oklahomans who offered comfort to the grieving families.
"More than anything," she says, "I want them to know how Oklahoma rose above the tragedy.
"I want them to know how it made us stronger."
Still single when she died, Neace's blond-haired, blue-eyed sister left behind only a beloved cat named "Rascal," who was about to turn a year old when the bombing took his owner's life.
"I know it sounds silly, but she had bought him a present," Neace says. "The cat was her child, if you see what I mean."
Rascal died last week at the age of 16.
"And it's been very hard," Neace says. "The cat was our last link to her."
‘The McVeigh Tapes’
For the first time, viewers
will hear the confession of
convicted terrorist timothy
mcVeigh in a new documentary
coming to MSNBC.
The cable channel marks
the 15th anniversary of the
1995 bombing of the Oklahoma
City federal building
with the broadcast of “the
mcVeigh tapes: Confessions
of an American terrorist” with
Rachel Maddow at 8 p.m.
monday, April 19, on cable 50.
Co-produced by MSNBC
Films and peacock productions,
“The McVeigh tapes”
draws on 45 hours of
previously unreleased audio
interviews recorded during
McVeigh’s prison incarceration.
it includes his own descriptions
of the planning and
execution of the attack and
offers clues into what turned
a decorated American soldier
into a terrorist who killed 168
and wounded hundreds more.
it also includes McVeigh’s
confession, plus computer
recreations of the interviews
with McVeigh and his actions
on and leading up to the day
of the attack.
The audiotapes acquired
for the film originally were
recorded as research for the
book “American Terrorist:
timothy McVeigh and the
Oklahoma City Bombing” by
Buffalo news reporters Lou
michel and Dan herbeck,
who are interviewed in the
McVeigh was executed
June 11, 2001.
— RITA SHERROW, World Television Editor
By the numbers
- 168 people killed,
including 19 children and
- 850 people injured
- 30 children orphaned
- 219 children lost at least
- 462 people left homeless
Source: Oklahoma City National
2 p.m., April 18
First Christian Church,
The 15th Anniversary
will feature voices from the
Oklahoma Master Chorale,
Schola Cantorum and the
First Christian Church
9 a.m., April 19
Oklahoma City National
Memorial, Oklahoma City
the annual remembrance
include the traditional
168 seconds of silence,
followed by remarks from
U.S. Secretary of Homeland
Security Janet Napolitano.
the memorial museum will
remain open to the public
free of charge until 5 p.m.
6 p.m., April 21
National Cowboy and
Western Heritage Museum,
The sixth-annual Reflections
of Hope Award will
be presented to former
Michael Overall 581-8383
Trees are reflected Monday on the water at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Bill Waugh / For the Tulsa World
The Oklahoma City National Memorial is shown Monday. Bill Waugh / For the Tulsa World
Lori Neace kneels Friday at the gravesite of her sister Jill Randolph, who died in the 1995 bombing. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
Jill Randolph died in the Oklahoma City bombing almost 15 years ago. Courtesy