JIM LEHRER: Now, making connections between two horrific acts of terrorism in this country. Betty Ann Bowser reports from Oklahoma City.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Every year on the anniversary are of the Oklahoma City bombing, people come together to remember. But this year it was more than just another anniversary.
LINDA LAMPERT, Oklahoma National Memorial Foundation: For us in Oklahoma City, it has been seven years. But for others, it has just been seven months since the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the downed flight in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We offer our hearts, and we share our experience.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Cynthia McDay and Constance Favorite both know the pain of losing a child. Favorite's only daughter, Lakesha Levy, died seven years ago in the bombing. She is remembered with one of the 168 chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. McDay lost her only daughter, Tonyel, on September 11 in the World Trade Center. Favorite went to New York City to work with World Trade Center families after the 9/11 attacks. She was introduced to McDay by a mutual friend. Since then, they have talked almost every day.
CYNTHIA McDAY: What it is is love that is fortified in the midst of pain.
CYNTHIA McDAY: We have shared pain. But then to be able to share love and to be empathetic and to show someone I care. I'll be here for you. That's so unique.
WOMAN: That's right. Oh, yeah.
CYNTHIA McDAY: That's so unique. I've spoke with others that I just met, you know, in a hug, and, "I'm here for you." I don't even know them, but they're here for me and they're...
WOMAN: That's the good thing.
CYNTHIA McDAY: That's so... you know, that's what you need. You need support. You need someone to tell you that. You need someone to show you that. And it's been a blessing. It has been a blessing to receive that. And we understand experience here.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: There were others with that shared experience: Firefighters from New York who had been rescue workers in Oklahoma City and rescue workers at ground zero.
WOMAN: Ashley Meagan Eckels. Catherine Louise Cregan.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Kathleen Treanor was also an Oklahomans who went to New York after 9/11 to comfort grieving families. She lost her daughter, Ashley, and her husband's parents in the bombing. Treanor says she understood what people were feeling when they went to see ground zero for the first time, so she went with them.
KATHLEEN TREANOR: There was one lady in particular that said, you know, "I think I'm going crazy." And I said, "Well let me guess. Everywhere you look, every voice you hear, every car you see, you see your husband. And you stop, you try to chase them down, and then you realize it's not him. And it's gut wrenching because it's not, and you fully expect it to be him and every time you turn around and it's not." And she looked at me and she said, "oh, my God, I'm doing that." And I said, "Well, I know you're doing that because I still do it to this day."
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The shared experience of 9/11 has also brought controversy back into the lives of people like Treanor, victims of terrorism, but trying to move on with life. She's just finished writing a book about her experiences after the bombing. She and husband Mike also have a daughter, Cassidy, now three. Some of the victims of the 9/11 terrorism will get hundreds of thousands of dollars from the federal government in compensation because of legislation passed to discourage families from suing the airlines involved.
KATHLEEN TREANOR: Congress enacted this Victims Compensation Act, which I think was a very kind thing for them to do, but they specifically excluded the families of Oklahoma. What that said to me was that the families of Oklahoma are not worth as much as the families of New York and Washington, D.C.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Treanor and other bombing victims are about to launch a national campaign to put pressure on Congress to do something to compensate them for their losses. Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating supports their effort.
GOV. FRANK KEATING: In Oklahoma City, these people got nothing, not a cent. And for some of them to really be in agony financially, having taken, you know, a terrible financial hit, lost a lot of momentum in their lives in addition to family members. If something can be done for them, I think that's equitable and fair.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Not only are some Oklahoma City families angry about the compensation package, many are also upset with Washington for constructing a new federal building just two blocks from the place where their friends and relatives died. When it's finished, it will look out onto the reflecting pool of the memorial and the 168 chairs. Most of the hundreds of federal government employees who survived the bombing have been told they will have to work in the new building.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development will be the largest tenant in the new building, with 110 employees. Fifty-five of them were working on the seventh and eighth floors of the Murrah Building when the bomb went off, and many of them have protested the location and design of the building. HUD supervisor Calvin Moser lost 35 co-workers in the bombing. Like many HUD employees who survived, Moser thinks having to look out his office window every day and see the memorial will be too painful.
CALVIN MOSER, Oklahoma City Bombing Survivor: I really don't feel like it's proper as long as there are employees that will be employed in our office that survived this bombing to retraumatize those folks, to require that they go into that building and work. I don't see how they can. There's some people that may be able to perform. I don't think there will be anybody that will be able to perform at their 100% quality because of the trauma.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: How about you? Will you be able to perform?
CALVIN MOSER: It will be difficult.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys has been caught in the crossfire of the controversy. For nearly seven years, downtown has been an economic wasteland. Under Humphreys' tenure, new construction is taking place. But the mayor says a new federal building isn't just about economic development.
MAYOR KIRK HUMPHREYS: I think the location is appropriate. I know that's controversial to some, but I think it's important that we do make the statement that terrorists are not going to deter us from living and going on with our lives. I'll tell you what. We're at war now, and we're at war against people fighting it trying to invoke fear in us. And we can't just leave barren every place they attack. That's what they want.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Economic recovery in Oklahoma City is under way. Thousands of visitors come downtown to the national memorial each year. Human recovery is not so easily measured, but for now, there is a shared experience that helps ease the pain.