Survivors remember bombing 10 years later
The bomb tore at the peace of mind of the nation.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The bomb spared the lives of a family's badly injured children, but 10 years later costs them their home. A survivor of the blast finds peace but not peace of mind. Grass grows on the crater, but there's still a void in the city's heart.
A decade after Timothy McVeigh parked his anger against the government in a Ryder truck outside a federal office building, the people and place go on -- but with scars that speak to what his bomb changed forever.
"Life up to the point of the bombing is like a book," said Jim Kreymborg, whose wife and daughter were among the 168 killed April 19, 1995. "You put it on a shelf. You try and close it and start reading a new book.
"You try and get past some of that stuff," he said, "but you don't forget."
Lost but not forgotten
The blast took Clifford Cagle's left eye, part of young Brandon Denny's brain and Aren Almon-Kok's little girl.
"I was young," says Almon-Kok, the mother of two children born in the years since her 1-year-old daughter, Baylee, died in the building's daycare center. "I never got the chance to find out who I was going to be. It changed me."
The bomb stole the skin from Michael Reyes' back, chin and temple and Reyes' father, Antonio, from this life. It also took Reyes' false sense of security, probably for good.
"I think when 9-11 happened, more people around the country came to lose that as well," said Reyes, who has come to terms with the bomb in his life, even though he said loud noises still startle him.
The blast tried and failed to take Jim Denny's two children. They were among only six children in America's Kids day care center who survived the bombing.
At 12, red-haired Rebecca is "going on 22," Denny said. But the risk of seizures means Brandon must forgo summer camp and other 13-year-old pursuits.
For a boy who doctors feared would never walk or talk again, Brandon has adapted well, even catching baseballs with his left hand because of limited use of his right arm, Denny said.
But the combination of medical bills and the fact that Denny quit his job to be available to deal with Brandon's seizures forced the family in 2002 to sell their home, move to an apartment and live off the equity.
"Since this happened, I don't think there's one hour of one day when I don't worry about something," Denny said.
Terrorism at home
The bomb also tore at the peace of mind of the nation.
"People didn't think that any city was a target. That's what Oklahoma City was -- a powerful reminder that terrorism can strike home," said Brian Houghton, director of research for the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.
It brought barriers to federal buildings nationwide, along with more guards, bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors.
The blast's reverberations can still be felt on death rows across the country, too.
Families of bombing victims and survivors, looking to speed McVeigh's execution, helped push for legislation that cut the time spent on death penalty appeals in half. McVeigh himself cut short his appeals and received a lethal injection in 2001.
Co-conspirator Terry Nichols is serving multiple federal and state life sentences for his role in the blast.
The victims' families have moved on from McVeigh and Nichols' destruction with new marriages, new children, new lives.
"Time is a wonderful healer," said 68-year-old Kreymborg, who enjoys his retirement with the widow he met at a grief support group and married seven years ago.
But even for those who only knew the bombing as a distant thunder, it took something irreplaceable.
"It made me feel vulnerable," said Piedmont school teacher Cheryl Crabtree, choking back her unexpected tears at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
"It could have been me, my children, my family," echoed Shirley Christmon, a grandmother from Denver, Colo.
"It could happen anywhere," said Maria Llanes of Wharton, Texas, adding that she sometimes worries it will.
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