Tomorrow is Sunday, April 19. A pretty significant date for Oklahomans. On this date 25 years ago, 168 people lost their lives in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building bombing that forever changed our state and country. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you first heard the news about the bombing? I had driven my wife’s car to work that morning, for some reason, and was driving north on Cornwell. I had just crossed the train tracks in front of the Kwik Change (Chloe and Howard Ballard) and Robeson’s Jewelers (Bobbie and Dennis Robeson) when the impact of the sound wave struck the car. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh great, I just hit these train tracks to hard and blew the tires out on my wife’s car.” I remember driving back over to the former Yukon Review building and walking back into the office where I was met by our very upset circulation manager Mark Breitling. I noticed all our newspaper trophies that were usually displayed in the front window of the building (facing east) were now scattered on the floor of the lobby. Mark was frantically explaining to me there had been a big explosion in downtown Oklahoma City and the shock wave had hit our building.
What we learned during the next few days changed us forever. Our matron of honor in our wedding Carrie Ann Lenz and her unborn baby Michael James Lenz III were both killed that day.
I would like you to read the newspaper report from the Daily Oklahoman. It takes me back to my old friend and Carrie’s husband Mike Lenz. Their son today would be about to celebrate his 25th birthday.
A man walking by a convenience store took his hat off and held it over his heart as he stood at attention by the curb. A Sonic Drive-In car hop put her tray behind her back and stood in respect.
Every car pulled over and stopped until the two-mile funeral cortege traveling in south Oklahoma City had passed.
When Mike Lenz Jr. saw the outpouring of love and support Tuesday as he peered from the window of the car in the funeral processional, he decided to share his story with others. He said he realized that everyone shared his pain.
Lenz’s wife, Carrie Ann, 26, and their unborn son, Michael James Lenz III, died in the bombing April 19. Lenz said he is grateful and considers himself lucky that Carrie’s body was found in two days. Her office was on the 9th floor of the Murrah Building.
“Those two days were so agonizing I can’t pretend to know the agony the other families are going through who are still waiting to hear,” he said.
Lenz and his wife began their day on the morning of the tragedy like most married couples. Rushing to get dressed and go to work, they hurriedly kissed each other goodbye and said, “I love you, I’ll see you later. “ He first learned of the blast at a fast-food restaurant off the Purcell exit where he had stopped while driving to Ardmore. Lenz said he heard a dazed and confused radio announcer say there had been an explosion at the federal courthouse. When he got back into his car and turned the radio on, he learned that the bomb had instead exploded in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building where his wife was employed by Dyn Corp, and contracted to the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Legal Tech II.
Lenz said he turned around and drove back to the city where he had to park his car some distance from the site. “I ran all the way,” he said. “I stood 100 yards from the building and looked up 40 feet and saw there was no structure from 50 to 100 feet of where my wife was. I also knew her desk sat 10 feet from a window. “ Even though he is a realist, Lenz said, “I held out for that miracle when I viewed the building at 10:30 a.m. All it takes is for a desk or one piece of steel that stood upright. “ Carrie was six months pregnant. Lenz said he and his wife had just learned the evening before from an ultrasound that their baby was a boy.
A fellow worker, who survived the blast, told Lenz he was on the elevator when the bomb blew and had just seen Carrie at her desk showing the ultrasound pictures of her unborn son.
“She was absolutely ecstatic about the baby, but then she was always happy,” he said. “She brought the same joy to her co-workers as she did to me. “ A fellow worker from the DEA Command Center described Carrie so well, Lenz said, when she made this comment: “Every time I saw Carrie it was like looking at pure sunshine. “ Lenz and his wife lived in Choctaw. He said they loved to go fishing, scuba diving, and for a while, they raised bird dogs.
“My wife and I loved each other very much and we were extremely happy. I lost 95 percent of who I am when she died. We did everything together. If I’m strong, it’s because she made me that way. Not everyone has this kind of relationship, I consider myself the luckiest man to ever walk the face of the earth. “ Lenz said he’s not bitter and believes everything happens for a reason. “Not even Billy Graham has the answer. He said he didn’t know why this happened either. “ The cars driving with their lights on – the people wearing ribbons on their lapels – the rescuers and volunteers have all tugged at Lenz’s heart strings.
“Seeing this love and concern keeps me from feeling alone,” he said, “and that helps. “ Lenz said he has not given any thought to the ones responsible for the bombing and he believes most of the victims’ families feel the same way he does. “We know the rest of the nation is taking care of and worrying about that. We know this is one thing we don’t have to worry about. “ Lenz has one regret. He is saddened by the fact that when he was asked, he did not know what color dress his wife was wearing.
He sends this message to other husbands: “Make sure you know what color dress your wife is wearing. It will hurt if you don’t have the answers to any of the questions you may be asked. “ The young husband said he is comforted in knowing his wife did not die alone. “I see it as a joy she didn’t go alone. She and my son went together.“
Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?
Yukon Progress Publisher Randy K. Anderson can be reached at (405) 517-5168 or firstname.lastname@example.org