The Oklahoma Standard endures

The Oklahoma Standard endures

Like many of my fellow Oklahomans, I have a list of memories of the Oklahoma City Federal Building long before it became the center of the universe twenty years ago for the worst of reasons.  Like most other people I know, I never knew its namesake, Alfred P. Murrah, was an old federal judge until a domestic terrorist’s bomb blew a third of it away killing 168 citizens, 19 of whom were young children.  Yes, I had been in that building several times.  When I first enlisted in the U.S. Navy in January of 1978, Navy Recruiting Command (CRUCOMM) was housed in a new facility that was not even yet a year old.  I remember how clean the Federal Building was and its newness.  The Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station (AFEES) occupied the entire second floor of the Journal Record Building across the street.  All military recruits arrived at the AFEES at 0-dark-thirty for their initiation to “hurry-up-and-wait” and after they were marked “Physically Qualified” (PQ) by the AFEES chief medical officer they all made their way to their respective recruiting offices in the new ultra-mod federal building across the street.  When I was applying for a direct commission nine and a half years later I also got to make a fair number of visits to CRUCOMM located still in Suite 300.  The only thing different was that AFEES had a new name, Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), but it was the same old drill.  I did make a few friends at CRUCOMM.  In fact I took my commissioning oath in that very office.  Twenty years ago yesterday when I learned a third of the building had been blown away, I immediately thought of the folks at CRUCOMM.  I then breathed a sigh of relief when I later learned they had moved out of the federal building in 1991 to a place on South Meridian Ave. in OKC.  Several other people whom I personally know were not spared by the tragedy.  A classmate from OU lost both parents, a former coworker lost her dad, and a few others lost friends and neighbors or sustained serious injuries.

OKCMemorial

Recalling the Oklahoma spirit that tragedy revealed twenty years ago, former President Bill Clinton was very articulate.

Excerpt:

“When you strip away all the little things that divide us, it is important to remember how tied we are and how much all Americans owe to Oklahoma City……. You chose farsighted love over blind hatred,…. The whole world needs you now………….you have reminded us that we should all live by the Oklahoma Standard….service, honor, kindness…..”

The response of the citizens of the City and the State of Oklahoma twenty years ago exemplified the former President’s words and reflected those deep rooted values of the people which define qualities worthy of emulation.

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America is a nation that represents examples of the absolute best and the absolute worst humanity has to offer.  Much of this can be visited right here in the Sooner State.  At a time when Oklahoma cannot seem to avoid the limelight of shame and dishonor, this ray of light emanating from a 20-year-old tragedy that touched many reminds us all that even though we may have a lot of less-than-desirable qualities within and among us, we are a fundamentally good people.  My hope is that the community remains mindful of our fundamental good and that it becomes more apparent through every day relations between each other rather than having to wait for disaster or tragedy to jog our collective memory.

My personal thanks go out to former President Clinton, former Governor Keating and FBI Director Comey for their comments yesterday.

The Oklahoma Standard endures!

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