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Five years later, Oklahoma blast survivors don't have time to dwell on the past

denny
Rebecca and Brandon Denny were preschoolers inside the day care center of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on the day of the blast, April 19, 1995  

April 19, 2000
Web posted at: 1:50 a.m. EDT (0550 GMT)


In this story:

'I don't remember what it sounded like'

'We've had to relearn how to do everything'

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



OKLAHOMA CITY (CNN) -- April 19, 1995, is not even a memory for two red-headed, giggly kids with no recollection of what happened to them.

But their parents will never forget. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building changed the way they look at life.

 VIDEO
VideoCNN's Charles Zewe visits a family with two children who survived the Oklahoma City bombing.
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"We live every minute like it's our last with our children as a family," said Jim Denny, father of two of the youngest bombing victims, Brandon, 8, and Rebecca, 7.

Brandon and Rebecca were in the Murrah building day care center. In an awful instant, the Dennys' lives changed.

'I don't remember what it sounded like'

"At 9:02 our world stopped ..." said Claudia Denny, their mother. "I thought our children were gone."

"I don't remember what it sounded like," Brandon said recently.

The Dennys' first inkling that their children might have survived the tragedy that eventually claimed 168 lives came from a TV report that a child was being prepared for surgery.

"We understand the little girl's name is Rebecca," the broadcast said.

Rebecca's arm and collarbone were broken, the left side of her body riddled with cuts. A sliver of blue plastic from the bomb itself had been blown through her cheek.

"I nearly passed out in the recovery because she looked so bad," said Claudia Denny.

Hours later, Brandon was located in another hospital. He was on life support with dust, concrete, even wallboard lodged in his brain.

Eight surgeries and five years later, Brandon's skull is slightly indented, a shunt still implanted to fight infection.

'We've had to relearn how to do everything'

Weekly physical and speech therapy help, but Brandon's right hand remains crimped into a fist, and his gait is not yet back to normal.

family
Rebecca after the bombing in 1995, left, now only has faint scars  

"You just learn patience, and you learn that some things are out of your control," said Jim Denny.

Despite 133 stitches, Rebecca has only faint scars left.

Both kids are in the same first-grade class. Their parents say initial nightmares about the bombing have subsided, and neither child shows any signs of psychological harm.

"We realize how important life is together, and you can't get time back," Jim Denny said.

In fact, the Dennys have trouble recalling how their children were in the time before the bomb.

A videotape of Brandon running and using both hands was made at a relative's first birthday only two weeks before the blast.

"Look at our children, how happy they are, and if you can't get inspiration from Brandon and Rebecca Denny, you're just not here," Jim Denny said.



RELATED STORIES:
Judge to sentence Nichols for Oklahoma bombing Thursday
June 4, 1998
Oklahoma bombing victims, Fortier emotional at sentencing hearing
May 27, 1998
Judge will order Nichols to pay for Murrah building
May 13, 1998

RELATED SITES:
Oklahoma State Government
Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation

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