What were you doing the morning of Wednesday April 19th, 1995 at 9:03?

For Mayor Ron Norick:
On that day, Ron Norick was the mayor of Oklahoma City. He was five miles away from the explosion at the federal building. 

“And it was a beautiful day, it was just a gorgeous April day in Oklahoma. There was nothing going on, and this building that we’re in, it’s a five-story building, shook. We have underground parking, I thought either somebody had really run into one of the columns of the building, or we’d had maybe a gas explosion. I mean this building shook like an earthquake. And I was in this other building and Hefner Parkway is right out here outside of my windows and I’m sitting here watching the traffic kind of wondering, “What was that?” so I come into my office here, I have windows that face the City and I look and I see this big black plume of smoke. And this all takes place within just a couple or three minutes.”

You can listen to former Mayor Ron Norick talk about that day in Chapter 14 of his oral history here. The month of April is always a nice milestone for Voices of Oklahoma for it is the anniversary month of recording the oral histories of many Oklahomans. It was April 10th, 2010 that we launched our website with the oral history of Wilma Mankiller. 

For Governor Frank Keating:
Former Governor Frank Keating had been governor for only three months on April 19th, 1995.

“I went to the prayer breakfast, the mayor’s prayer breakfast in Oklahoma City. And then came back to the office. The Governor’s Office has bulletproof glass in those windows. Suddenly, there was a concussion. You could feel whup [sound] something had happened. So, my reaction, an explosion had occurred. My immediate reaction was maybe an ammunition dump had blown up a tanker or a plane had crashed or something. But clearly there was maybe an energy misplaced or something. We went and turned on the television and there was a news helicopter over the Murrah Building, blasted in half, literally. The initial report was there was a natural gas explosion in the federal courthouse.”

By listening to former Governor Frank Keating’s oral history here, you will hear him talk about the OKC bombing in chapters 16 and 17.

For Stephen Jones:
Stephen Jones, an attorney from Enid, Oklahoma, was appointed by the United States District Court to serve as the principal defense counsel for Timothy McVeigh, charged in the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Stephen Jones meeting with McVeigh in his jail cell:
“And he explained how he did it. He went into enormous detail about the bomb. And as he was explaining it to me, I had this mental image of people falling. I could see the victims falling in the Murrah Building as it collapsed. Because of course, what kills most people is not the bomb. It’s the trauma of the building falling, the steel and concrete, the weight and pressure. I mean certainly the blast kills some people, but it’s really the effect of the blast that does it. I didn’t interrupt him. I listened very carefully. I’m sure as I’ve said, I went to the restroom, or had something to drink, or lunch. I honestly don’t remember it. I just remember listening to him. I didn’t take any notes. 

JE: So, he’s telling you he did it, and you didn’t believe him?
SJ: I was skeptical.”

You can hear the entire story of defending Timothy McVeigh by listening here to the oral history of defense attorney Stephen Jones beginning with chapter 6.

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