The Devastating Attack of Oklahoma City Bombing

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Table of Contents

  • Significance
  • Background
  • The Bombing
  • Response and Recovery
  • Impact

The Oklahoma City Bombing was a devastating attack on so many innocent people. On April 19, 1995, the bomb exploded in front of the Alfred. P. Murrah building. This attack was fabricated by Timothy McVeigh and his partner, Terry Nichols. McVeigh and Nichols put together a homemade bomb that they put inside a rental truck. This explosion massively damaged the Alfred P. Murrah building, and led to the deaths of 168 people, 19 of which were children. This bomb also left 500+ people injured. At that point in history, the Oklahoma City Bombing was known as the biggest terrorist attack in United States history.

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The Oklahoma City Bombing holds a very significant place in my life. The reason that it is significant to me was because I could have lost my dad that day. My dad was about 5 miles away from where the bomb detonated, and he felt the shaking. If my dad would have been any closer to the Alfred P. Murrah building, he could have lost his life. This bombing also holds a lot of significance in the lives of Americans. Because this was the biggest terrorist attack in the United States at that time, many people were shocked and confused that something like this could happen. This made people wonder if something like this would ever happen again. This also set in place many security procedures that are seen today. The real significance of this attack is that it opened the doors to the idea of terrorism in the United States. This is a good thing because before this event took place, nothing this big and bad had ever happened to this extent on American soil. This paved the way for research methods about terrorism and security mesaures that are still in place today.


Timothy McVeigh was just a normal citizen before he committed this attack. When McVeigh was young, people described him as very quiet and withdrawn. He learned many things from his grandfather, and his grandfather got him very interested in guns. Because of this, McVeigh was very interested in gun rights and the Second Amendment right to bear arms. McVeigh enlisted in the army in 1988 when he was 20 years old. He even won a bronze star for bravery in the Persian Gulf War. McVeigh wanted to join the Special Forces team, but was very upset when he kicked out on the second day of training. He was honorably discharged in 1991.

After McVeigh left the army, he started to get really upset over governmental issues. Two of these issues were the Waco Siege and the Ruby Ridge Standoff. The Waco Siege was a siege of a compound that belonged to the religious group Branch Davidians. This siege was carried out by Texas state law enforcement and the United States Military. This siege resulted in the deaths of four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians.

The Ruby Ridge Standoff consisted of an 11 day standoff between the United States Marshal Service and Randy Weaver and his family. Randy Weaver was accused of selling illegal shotguns, and this caused an investigation that Weaver was not happy about. This standoff resulted in the deaths of U.S. Marshal Bill Degan, Weaver’s son, Sammy, and Weaver’s wife, Vicki.

These two events made McVeigh hate the government even more. This made him not trust the government, and he wanted to make the government pay for what they had done. This is why McVeigh targeted a government building.

The Bombing

On the morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a rented Ryder van outside of the Alfred P. Murrah building. Inside of this vehicle was a bomb that was made of many things such as agricultural fertilizer, diesel fuel, and other harmful chemicals. At around 9:02 a.m., the bomb detonated. Within minutes, the scene looked like a warzone. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one-third of the building was completely rubble, and around 50 other buildings were damaged in the process('Oklahoma City Bombing | Federal Bureau of Investigation', 2019). This bomb killed 168 people, 19 of which were children. There were over 500+ people who were injured. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, this was the worst act of terriorism on United States soil ('Oklahoma City Bombing | Federal Bureau of Investigation', 2019)

Response and Recovery

The federal government played a key role in the investigation. According to Manzi, Powers, and Zetterlund, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was at the head of the investigation, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinated rescue and recovery efforts (Manzi, Powers & Zetterlund, 2002). FEMA was also responsible for coordinating several assistance programs that provided financial support to the victims of this attack. Other non-government agencies helped in the response and recovery of this attack as well. There were several volunteer organizations, many businesses, and many people from all over the country that helped to provide money, food, emergency care packages, and their time.


This devastating attack drastically affected the lives of people living in Oklahoma City, and United States citizens. A couple ways that this affected people living in the Oklahoma City area are that divorce rates decreased, and birth rates increased. According to Feuerherd, a researcher for JSTOR, family researchers noticed that after the bombing, survivors were significantly less likely than the general population to divorce (Feuerherd, 2018). After comparing divorce rates for the past 10 years in Oklahoma City, they noticed that there was a drastic change in the months following the bombing.

In a separate study done by family researchers, the metropolitan area of Oklahoma City experienced a baby boom in the nine months following the bombing. Many of the researchers believe that due to the dramatic and terrible attack, this has caused family members to want to strengthen their bond with their loved ones. 

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