Woman reacts at daughters memorial chair at Oklahoma City National Memorial on eve of bombing anniversary
Jeff Mitchell  /  Reuters
Gloria Taylor pauses after placing flowers on her daughter's memorial chair at the Oklahoma City National Memorial in Oklahoma City.
updated 4/26/2005 11:07:32 AM ET 2005-04-26T15:07:32

Readers who have lost a a loved-one, friend or family member in the tragic Oklahoma City bombing ten years ago share their stories (We are no longer taking submissions for this topic. Thank you for your responses):

A brother’s love
My brother, Henry Biddy, lost his wife Oleta Christine Biddy in the Murrah bombing. We waited for 17 days before the remains of Oleta were given back to us. I sat down at the survivor center located at the First Christian Church for those 17 days in my brother’s stead. He was busy about the business of attending to the multiple funerals of Oleta’s co-workers.

My brother is a prince among men. During that grief time after the bombing when the events for the day were to go to one funeral service after another, the woman who was the second in command for the Social Security office in Washington, D.C., who was offering official condolences and attending the funeral services for the fallen members of the Social Security office, told me that it was more than she could bear, but that she would look for my brother in each service and draw from his strength and resolve. My brother said he had no regrets about his marriage to Oleta, and in the 35 years of their marriage not one day went by that he did not profess his love to Oleta. Romance writers should interview my brother about the love he and Oleta shared.

My brother is unlike a lot of others who lost loved ones in the Murrah, not much of a participator in any of the post bombing activities. I asked him if he was going town to the site for the tenth anniversary of the bombing, and the style which is very much my brother, he replied, “No, that was the worst day of my life, why would I want to go back down to remember that?”

In closing Oleta Christine (Walters) Biddy was a dream. She was the first one to work and the last one to leave, in a day when work ethic is scarce, let it be said that she had the best work ethic I ever saw. Oleta loved my brother and his family, she loved her son Daniel and grandsons with a greater love than what will ever be described in this letter. Oleta loved children, so much that when first married to my brother expressed that she would like at least six children, when they later learned how difficult it was for her to have children, she directed her love for children to working in the nursery at the First Baptist Church in Tuttle, Okla.

Henry said once during those 17 days until recovery that they would not find Oleta until the last child was recovered, and so it was, one of the firefighter recovery personnel said she was recovered less than 10 feet from the last child recovered. I will go again to the Murrah site, not in my brothers stead, but on my own volition to honor not just the life of Oleta and place yellow roses (her favorite) on her chair, but also remember all the policemen and the hundreds of firefighters. I will also say a prayer of thanks for the preachers, the clerics of all faiths, the councilors, the doctors, the nurses, the emergency responders, to all those who responded with time and money and human resources, the Oklahoma National Guard, the endless volunteers both corporate and individual. I am so lucky, I just happen to live in the best city in the world.
--Gary D. Biddy, Oklahoma City

First-time loss
I lost my good childhood friend, Cartney Koch McRaven. She was only 19 and had just gotten married. She was going to get her name changed at the Social Security Office. I was only 20 at the time, but it was the first time I lost someone very close to me. I learned alot about how to grieve-and how not to grieve. Cartney was a very good person, and she always wanted to be a child psychologist of some kind. I believe she is in Heaven now watching all of God's children. I haven't stayed in contact with her family, but I cant imagine how much her parents miss her. I still have very vivid dreams about her all the time.
--Heather Bortnem, Brookings, S.D.

‘The most moving experience’
I did not lose a loved-one, friend, or family member in the attack though the grief I felt for the families was as if I did. I visited the memorial last summer and it was and still is the most moving experience of my life. The impact of the size and even beauty of the grounds and seeing the reflection pond and the two walls made me weep for a long time. It is all a truly fitting memorial to the victims and their families and friends. The statue across the street on the site of the rectory of the Catholic Church that was destroyed in the terrorist attack is still vivid in my mind. It depicts Jesus with his head bowed and facing away from the street. As I walked around to see the front of the statue and at his feet the inscription, JESUS WEPT, I wept uncontrollably, such a sad and moving tribute I have never seen or experienced in my life. Every American should go to Oklahoma City and experience the memorial for themselves. Pictures and words do not come close to seeing it in person and the impact it has on the mind, and emotions. You get a tremendous feeling of humility and yet peace to be in this city that has risen from the ashes to speak to us of how precious life is. God bless the people of Oklahoma City, who will always be in my prayers.
--Bobbi Cogan, Round Lake Beach, Ill.

Incredible loss
I lost my mother. I lost a friend. I lost faith in our government. I lost innocence. I changed from believing in the death penalty to understanding that it changed nothing for McVeigh to be executed. His death did not bring back one soul. It did not fill the emptiness left behind. If I saw him today, I would forgive him. I am not so sure I would feel that way about the others that controlled and directed him though. Even today I remain convinced that the truth has not been told and that the little band of conspirators had much bigger helpers.

And if you can, let Bill McVeigh know that I know he feels a lot of hurt that was not of his doing. I never tried to reach out to him, until today I never thought of it.
--J.L., Oklahoma City

Touching many lives
I was born and raised in Las Vegas with my sister Kitty, our uncle, Bill Wilcoxson, had been on the wait list for a heart transplant, and received the heart of a nurse who was killed trying to help people who were injured that day. I would like to tell her family that she will not be forgotten, my sister and I think of her often. All we have is a small newspaper clip, and unfortunately our uncle only lived a few more weeks after the transplant. She holds a place in our family tree, so that our children and their children will always know of her also. Our hearts go out to Bill McVeigh also, my sister and I have felt the heartache that a parent feels when a loved child is convicted of a crime, and the knowing that the lives of people have been forever changed because of it.
--Kelly Droine, Las Vegas, Nev.

Still hard to believe
I lost 35 friends and former co-workers and to this day still cannot believe something so tragic could happen in Oklahoma. For five years I was in such a deep depression, I considered taking my own life. My family suffered along with me.  I missed my children's school functions, family get-togethers and most of all the freedom to come and go as I please. I got help for the depression and eventually withdrew from my self-imposed exile. I am happy to say I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl on Mar. 14, 1996. I call her my miracle baby. She literally saved my life. I don't know what I would have done had she not been born. She gave me a reason to live and enjoy life to the fullest. My eldest daughter and I recently visited the "Field of Chairs" (for the first time) and I was able to say goodbye to my friends and share a few tender moments with my daughter, who is a corporal in the U.S.M.C.  I hope to never have to live through a trauma like that again and would like to THANK YOU for the chance to share my story with you. God Bless and Take Care!
--grannybri, McLoud, Okla.

Personal lesson
When I was seventeen I lost my father Ted Allen in the bombing in Oklahoma City. I would say that the bombing and subsequent events in our world have impacted me most by making me realize that sacrificing our liberties in the face of increasing instability will only garner tyranny. We need to realize that events such as Oklahoma City and 9/11 should not be used a pretext to violate our rights as human beings. In addition I would say that I have realized that responding to violence with killing and violence only begets more violence.
--Spencer Allen

Forever-changing
I know you wanted to hear from those who had lost loved-ones, friends or family, but I just wanted to stress to you that anyone that lived in the Oklahoma City area that April morning and felt that blast has been forever changed. As I close my eyes, ten years mean nothing. I hear the boom, see the sights and still feel the windows shake. Everyone knew someone or had some small connection to the survivors or victims.  It is hard to believe to this day.  I remember turning out of my neighborhood and locking eyes with a firefighter who was coming home for a break after long hours at the site.  The memory of the look on his face is emblazoned in my mind.  Though young, he had aged many years, in just a couple of days.  It was an overwhelming look of exhaustion, filth from the debris and a look of disbelief.  I also, have retained a view of the Murrah Building in my mind.  I caught a glimpse of it from the North/West side on a dark, rainy April afternoon about 4 days after the blast.  The weather was indicative of the hearts of so many.  It was so dreary, and the light of a helmet light shined out from one of the upper stories as the searcher combed through the rubble.  I know I will never lose these images.
--Kelly Labeth, Derby, Kan. 

© 2005 MSNBC Interactive

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