When a bomb tore apart the Alfred P. Murrah federal office building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 I had been at my new job as media research director at New York ad agency Foote Cone & Belding for just a month. It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon and I was at my desk in my office in the GM Building. In the background I had the "oldies" radio station WCBS playing (the radio was in the style of one from the 1930s, a send-off gift from my old staff). It was from that radio that I first heard the shocking news about the explosion that occurred earlier in the morning.
The front of the building had been completely blown off and the death toll slowly mounted as the days went by (the final toll was 168 with nearly 700 injured). I found it curious when initial reports mentioned children being among the many casualties. I thought that perhaps a group of students had been on a field trip there. Later when I got home is when I heard that a daycare center for workers' children was in the building.
At first many jumped to the conclusion that this was the act of Muslim terrorists, so it was surprising when the FBI showed sketches the next day of two suspects who were Caucasian. Indications were that the attack was carried out by US citizens who were part of a burgeoning anti-government "militia" movement. It annoyed me that reporters regularly remarked how awful it was that such an attack happened in "the heartland" as if it would have been less of a tragedy if it occurred in a big city on the East or West Coast.
Six years later the driver of the bomb-laden truck, Timothy McVeigh, was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, three months before the attacks on 9-11 - which would surpass the Oklahoma City bombing as the worst terrorist attack on the US mainland.