15 years ago I lived in Dallas Texas…in Irving, actually. I worked at an advertising agency and had just learned how to drive a car.
I was 22 years old (Lawd, have mercy) and had just started to stretch my wings post college. I was a young 22…totally absorbed with trying to get a promotion at my first “real job” and still dazzled by the feeling of independence I got out of having responsibilities.
I was years away from feeling weighed down and stressed the hell out by those same responsibilities.
15 years ago today I woke up at dawn…put on the oh so corporate suit-based uniform we used to have to wear back…drove to work and began my routine.
By 8:30am I was already pulling media reports and sending deadline reminders.
By 8:45am I was already up on some serious work gossip from the day before…I think it was a Tuesday.
15 years ago…no, it was a Wednesday…I walked to the office vending machine area and purchased a honey bun.
It was 9am.
I walked back to my office…checked the reports that were churning out of the old as hell printer we used…returned to my desk and settled down to enjoy my honey bun.
Then there was a shout, followed by rapid voices, sharp sentences…an intense conversation happened just far enough away from me that I couldn’t make out what was being said, just that it was emotional as hell.
Was it 9:30am?
I can’t remember…I didn’t look at the clock on my computer, just pushed back from my desk and went to look around the corner.
What time was it?
It couldn’t have been 10am yet.
My co-worker was throwing things into her bag…her phone was off the hook and someone was shouting her name on the other end…she shoved by me and took off at a run.
Her supervisor ran after her.
I looked around for someone to ask what the hell was going on.
I remember all that, but not what time it was.
Someone whispered that there had been an accident in Oklahoma City…and the co-worker who had taken off was from there, had tons of family who worked downtown and had received a call from her mother that something very bad happened.
We all began the now familiar office ritual of tragedy…someone turned on CNN, other television sets went to local news…and the rest of the day was spent learning rumors and then the shocking facts.
We later learned that my co-workers family was not harmed...
...and that the tragedy was no accident.
15 years ago, when I was 22 years old and working at my first job post college, Americans attacked America.
Domestic terrorists murdered 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
And I think now, as I thought back then, about the people and children who began that Wednesday like they began every other day…about the pre-work routine, the pause for gossip, the emails sent to kick off the day and then maybe a dash to the vending machines.
Then I think of the horror that I cannot comprehend…the chaos I know only from what television crews captured from a distance and those pictures I can still see when I close my eyes…the confusion and fear and dust and rubble and that desperate search for survivors.
And then the slow…oh, it was slow as honey straight out of the fridge…that slow roll-out of who, what, when and we already knew where.
Not foreign, but domestic.
Children killed not due to miscalculation but rather indifference.
The deadliest domestic terrorist act in this nation’s history...
…happened 15 years ago today.
It was a Wednesday.