Skip to main content

A flashback to Oklahoma City bombing

By Marcy Heinz, CNN
April 19, 2013 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
People pause at the memorial site in Copley Square on April 30 in Boston. The city continues to return to normalcy with Boylston Street fully reopened and businesses back up and running after two weeks of closures. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/us/boston-bombings-galleries/index.html'>See all photography related to the Boston bombings.</a> People pause at the memorial site in Copley Square on April 30 in Boston. The city continues to return to normalcy with Boylston Street fully reopened and businesses back up and running after two weeks of closures. See all photography related to the Boston bombings.
HIDE CAPTION
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victimss
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
Photos: Nation mourns Boston Marathon tragedy
Nation mourns Boston Marathon tragedy
Nation mourns Boston Marathon tragedy
Nation mourns Boston Marathon tragedy
Nation mourns Boston Marathon tragedy
Nation mourns Boston Marathon tragedy
Photos: Nation mourns Boston bomb victims
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Marcy Heinz: Boston Marathon bombing brought back memories of an April day in 1995
  • Heinz: The Oklahoma City bombing left many residents in shock and grief
  • She says Oklahomans feel sympathy for Bostonians and for those who were killed
  • Heinz: Despite the bombings, we are not victims; we are survivors, and we have thrived

Editor's note: Marcy Heinz is a media producer for CNN.

(CNN) -- When the two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, I was reminded right away of another April day torn apart by violence.

April 19, 1995, began as a calm, clear day in my hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I was a young college student at the time, aspiring to be a journalist.

I was driving to work when I heard the news. Just then six Oklahoma State Toopers cars screamed past me, racing towards downtown. I went numb. This was my home. Things like this didn't happen here.

Marcy Heinz
Marcy Heinz

In the days after the bombing, I contacted my family and friends to make sure they were safe. I also sought out survivors like Jennifer Robinson, who was living in the Regency Tower, which was a few short blocks away from the target of the bombing, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. She was just getting up for the day when the blast rocked the entire area, shattering windows and spreading debris.

"It scared me to death. I have no idea if everyone got out of my apartment building," she told me. The blast left her homeless and without a car. I spoke with Robinson again a day after the attack in Boston, and she said the marathon bombing brought back memories of the Oklahoma bombing. Other fellow Oklahomans that I knew felt the same way, including journalist Clytie Bunyan, who was in the post office across the street from the Murrah building when the bomb detonated.

"It's safe to say that [the] explosions in Boston don't sit well with people here," Bunyan said. "People here have moved on with their lives, but naturally we remember our pain when things like this happen. And April is still a difficult month for some."

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



We felt a deep sense of loss and grief and came together in solidarity and support. People stepped forward and offered to help.

Like Maj. Chris Fields of the Oklahoma City Fire Department, who had been on the scene for just 20 minutes when police officer John Avery found 1-year-old Baylee Almon in the rubble and handed her to Fields.

Almon was one of the 19 children who were lost that day and the images of her little body carefully cradled in Fields' arms became an enduring symbol for many. Eighteen years later, Fields watched some of the coverage from Boston at his fire station in Oklahoma City and says the images struck a familiar cord.

"9/11 was a different scale, but this being right in a downtown area and you know, this hit a lot closer to home than 9/11 did," Fields said. When he saw interviews with the first responders in Boston, he noticed that they answered questions the way he did that day.

Suspect's friend: 'Doesn't make sense'
Witness: We heard explosions, gunshots

"The images they saw were what I saw," he said.

Oklahomans have never been the kind to dwell on the past, but we won't forget the 168 people who died in the blast on April 19 and those who bravely survived. That day does not define us, even if it has become a part of our story. Through the years, we have moved on. We are not victims. We are survivors, and we have thrived.

Fields reflects that healing in the wake of a terror attack like Oklahoma City or Boston takes a lot of time.

"It took a while," he said. "I've done some counseling. It will never be just another day, but now I don't dread it like I used to. It's not something you forget, and it's going to be with them for a long time. If you think you might need help, talk to somebody about that. That was something I did wrong. My heart goes out to them."

He adds that the definition of "normal" changed for Oklahomans after the attack. Maybe Bostonians would feel the same way.

But despite what we've gone through, we are resilient, strong, and we won't let the actions of the perpetrators get to us.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Marcy Heinz.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 2323 GMT (0723 HKT)
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 2129 GMT (0529 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
ADVERTISEMENT