Rescuers have not found her mother and baby brother, and Julia imagines the worst.
In the events that follow, Julia's emotions swim between joy and despair, and she must finally make a choice - be a victim or be a survivor. Not only is Julia a survivor, but she ends up putting the event into perspective for children across the nation.
Crumbling Spirit is a short account that roughly follows my own experiences during the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19, 1995, almost 18 years ago. Below are two selections from Crumbling Spirit.
Wednesday, April 19, 1995
I hugged the wall so no one would notice how close to the library I was getting. I might have gotten in trouble for being out of class, but I was too worried about my dad to think about that – I had to find out if the reporters were talking about his building. I heard the reporter interviewing a passerby about what she thought had happened. The passerby stuttered and stammered, finally saying, “It’s a war zone! The building is gone.” Then she began coughing, and the reporter took over again: “Rescue workers and medical personnel are running in every which direction just looking for survivors. From the picture on your monitor, you probably aren’t able to tell very much about the situation. The dust and smoke have not yet cleared enough to get a clear picture of what the building looks like from this location.”
Together, teachers, parents, and students worked through memorials, constant television coverage, fatality reports, and challenges of unprecedented proportion – all stemming from the terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City, and all under the watchful eyes of the media and the world.
Every year since then, I have brought the experience into my fourth grade classroom at Cecil Floyd, figuring they don't have many opportunities to experience history through a live eyewitness report. Through my own reports and photographs, students find empathy for the victims, rescuers, and their families. They find their own compassion for the survivors and their continuing struggle to cope with the tragedy. And now, after many have experienced their own tragedy in the 2011 Joplin tornado, students compare and contrast the natural disaster with the terrorist bombing of 1995. Above all, I stress to everybody the difference between being a victim and being a survivor.
These days, the Oklahoma City National Memorial loans us their Hope Trunk for use in our classroom. Through the use of the materials in the trunk, students are brought into contact with the history of the event and are introduced to the memorial itself.
This Friday is the anniversary, and we will spend a significant time remembering this historic event.