|HEALING THE PAIN|
April 19, 2000
Marking the fifth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings, a national memorial was dedicated to the victims. NewsHour correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports on the healing process.
|BETTY ANN BOWSER: For weeks people have been coming to watch the final work being done on the Oklahoma City National Memorial. They point at the place where 168 people died five years ago today in the worst terrorist incident in American history. They stare at the two gates of time erected at each end of what was once the street in front of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building. One structure is engraved "9:01 A.M.," The other, "9:03 A.M." The bomb went off at 9:02. In between are 168 empty bronze chairs facing a reflecting pool. They represent the men, women and 19 children who died on that day in April of 1995. The memorial also pays tribute to those who survived the blast, and the 12,000 rescue workers who came to help from all over the world.|
|Honoring the slain|
DR. PAUL HEATH: This will become a part of the National Memorial. Collection.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Dr. Paul Heath lived through the bombing. The other day he placed a wreath with yellow tulips just outside the memorial. Heath organized the Murrah Building Survivors Association that's been so crucial in getting the memorial built.
DR. PAUL HEATH: This memorial will do what we said we wanted it to do, and that is we come here to remember those who died, those who survived, and those changed forever. May all that leave here know the impact of violence, and may all that come here receive hope, comfort, peace and serenity.
PEOPLE SINGING: We are standing on holy ground and I know that there are angels all around.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: This morning, more than 2,000 people attended a service to honor the victims, survivors and rescue workers, and to begin day-long dedication ceremonies.
DR. ROBERT ALLEN, Former Pastor, Wesly United Methodist Church: This whole memorial will serve as a reminder that hate may blow up buildings and it may claim innocent lives, but we as a people will never forget. We as a people will never forget.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The names of all 168 victims were read as their families were escorted by an honor guard to their empty chairs.
WOMAN READING NAMES: Luther H. Trainor, Laru A. Trainor, Michael George Thompson, Charlotte Andrea Lewis Thomas, Emilio Toppia.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: A number of these people are also taking part in tonight's program where President Clinton is delivering the main address.
PEOPLE SINGING: Let those change forever --
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Five years ago she was not so serene.
KATHLEEN TREANOR: I just want everyone to know what my little girl looks like.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Just after the bombing, Treanor and her husband Mike were desperately trying to find her only daughter and his parents.
KATHLEEN TREANOR: My 4-year-old baby daughter and my mother-in-law and father-in-law were in the Social Security office. They had a 9 a.m. appointment. Nine o'clock was their appointment. It was on the first floor. They're still missing. No one's found them. No one's seen them. Their names aren't on any lists.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Ashley, 62-year-old Luther and 56-year-old Larue Treanor were among the victims eventually found in the rubble. One year later in 1996, Treanor was still grieving for her daughter.
KATHLEEN TREANOR: (April 1996) There won't be a first day of school for Ashley. There won't be any proms. There won't be any wedding. I won't be able to teach her how to sew or cook or do anything that my mother taught me. All the things that a mother and daughter would do together are gone for me now. I haven't got that anymore.
KATHLEEN TREANOR: May this memorial offer comfort --
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Treanor poured her grief into staying busy. She worked hard on the committee that picked the architects and plan for the memorial and was on the podium the day it was unveiled. Treanor made herself go to luncheons and give speeches about the bombing.
KATHLEEN TREANOR: We can shake our fists at each other and at God and demand to know why, or we can let go of that anger, give it to God and count our blessings.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But underneath all this, Treanor longed to have another baby -- something doctors had told her would not be possible without surgery. In 1996 she had an operation, and last year in February, Kassidy Caitlin Treanor was born. Today she is 14 months old.
KATHLEEN TREANOR: You can't help but look at her and see Ashley's eyes, and, you know, I've got baby pictures when Ashley was that age, and so much of Kassidy resembles her. You could tell. You could definitely know they are sisters. I wouldn't say it's taken the pain away. It's taken some specific hurts and made them easier to bear. After we lost Ashley, my arms would just ache because I wanted to hold her so bad, and I don't have that ache anymore.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The Oklahoma City Memorial isn't intended to bring comfort just to the families of victims, it's also there to honor those who survived. This tree was one was one of the few living things to make it through the blast. Known as the Survivors' Tree, it's regenerated itself in five years and has been incorporated into the memorial. Susan Walton calls it her tree because she is one of those who lived through the bombing.
SUSAN WALTON: From head to toe -- I had a basal skull fracture, nerve damage behind both eyes, a broken nose, six fractures to my face and jaw. I lost six teeth, I had a ruptured spleen, and both my legs were badly injured -- broken.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Since the bombing, Walton has had 25 operations, and only two months ago, finally finished physical therapy. Throughout all this there have been serious doubts about whether Walton would ever walk again.
TEACHER: First you click slideshow --
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Today she's back in school taking courses for a business degree. And a few days ago, she did something remarkable: She walked to her granddaughter's birthday party.
SUSAN WALTON: Recovery comes in small steps. And you should appreciate what you're given and do the best you can with what you've got. I mean, it's a choice. You know, you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself, or you can get up and go. And it's not very pretty to just sit there, so be happy with the small steps and it will develop into something big.
|The long process of recovery|
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But not everyone feels Walton's sense of recovery. Some of the rescue workers are still haunted by being unable to save people. A number have either retired or quit their jobs. Major David Steele remembers how frustrating it was for him to crawl through the rubble.
MAJOR DAVID STEELE: The concrete... you could see blood between cracks, and you knew you had somebody on the other side, but you're dealing with eight to ten inches of concrete and you know, how do you get through it? You couldn't get through it. You had to remove it. And we done it piece by piece.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Do you still think about that today?
MAJOR DAVID STEELE: Sure. Yeah, it's definitely in everybody's mind. And anytime I go by that memorial site, we think about it.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: But Steele says today's dedication may help him and the other rescue workers put the events of April 19 to rest.
MAJOR DAVID STEELE: To me, my life is a book being written chapter by chapter, and for five years, this chapter's gone on. And we're going to close it.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The memorial's going to do that for you?
MAJOR DAVID STEELE: I think so.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: What is it about the memorial that's going to make you feel that that chapter has closed?
MAJOR DAVID STEELE: Something new at that location, really seeing the Survivors' Tree come back the way it has, seeing something other than either a destroyed building or the rubble left behind at that location.
GIRL SINGING: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be