By Rep. RICK WEST
Last week on the House Floor, I presented a resolution sending heartfelt remembrances to the families of those killed in the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.
As I’ve noted many times during my service in the Legislature, I had seven friends and coworkers who worked alongside me in the USDA veterinary services office who were killed that day: Olan Bloomer, Jim Boles, Peggy Clark, Dick Cummings, Adele Higginbottom, Carol Khalil and Rheta Long.
I will never let an anniversary of this date go by without remembering those I was so close to as well as the 161 other men, women and children who lost their lives that day and the hundreds more who were injured.
I also recognized local, state and federal law enforcement officials and first responders, as well as the thousands of volunteers who rushed to help in the aftermath of what was one of the worst terrorist attacks ever to occur on United States’ soil. These heroes truly set what came to be known as the Oklahoma Standard.
Through the building of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and the rebuilding of a new federal building, we showed the world we will not be cowed by the cowardly acts of terrorists.
Joining me in the House for the presentation of this resolution was J.D. Strong, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. In 1995, Strong was employed by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, which was next door to the Murrah Building. The board was holding a meeting the morning of the bombing, the recording of which is played for visitors to the Memorial.
Strong recounted how he was just a young man at the time of the bombing, but how he learned that day the true value of life and the true meaning of selfless sacrificial service.
I also was joined by Gene Brown, director of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum, who was working at The Village Fire Department the day of the bombing. He was called to help in emergency rescue efforts. Brown told me how firefighters are trained to help in emergencies, but the bombing was so beyond the scope of what anyone had been trained to do. He said the true heroes of the day were not the firefighters, however, but those selfless Oklahomans who came from all across the state to bring food and water and anything else the firefighters might need during the entire time they worked to clear the bombing site.
It was an honor to have both of these men in the House with me.
On a final note, I did not draw an opponent in this year’s election, so I will be serving House District 3 for another two years. This is truly an incredible honor.
Remember to listen to me on KPRV Radio at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday for my legislative update.
As always, if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at email@example.com.
Rick West serves District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes part of LeFlore County.