Oklahoma City bombing
At 9:02 am on April 19, 1995, in the street in front of the Murrah building, attackers exploded a rented Ryder truck containing about 5,000 lb (2,300 kg) of explosive material. The car bomb was composed of ammonium nitrate, an agricultural fertilizer, and nitromethane, a highly volatile motor-racing fuel. Timothy McVeigh, a gulf war veteran, was arrested by an Oklahoma Highway Patrolman within an hour of the explosion. At his trial, the United States Government asserted that the motivation for the attack was to avenge the deaths of Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, whom McVeigh believed had been murdered by agents of the federal government. McVeigh called the casualties in the bombing "collateral damage" and compared the action to actions he had taken during the Gulf War. The attack was staged on the second anniversary of the Waco incident.
In all, 168 people were killed in the bombing. The remains of the half-destroyed Federal building were demolished in May 1995. Today, the site of the Murrah building is occupied by a giant memorial which includes a large reflecting pool, two large "doorways", a museum, and a field full of chairs—one for each person lost. The seats of the children killed are smaller than those of the adults lost. Some legislation was also introduced in response to the attack, notably the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for the bombing, after being convicted of, among other things, murdering federal law enforcement officials. He was executed by lethal injection at a U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, on June 11, 2001.
An accomplice, Terry Nichols, was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of manslaughter in a federal court trial. Nichols stood trial in McAlester, Oklahoma, on state murder charges starting on March 1, 2004, and was convicted of 160 counts of first-degree murder, plus other felony charges on May 26. The penalty phase of the state trial, in which he could have been given the death penalty, ended in a jury deadlock, which automatically resulted in the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment. His brother, James was also accused of taking part in the bombing, but was released due to lack of evidence.
The effect on children
The bombing shocked children like never before. Life for children came to a virtual standstill after the bombing. They were glued to television reports of the bombing, not knowing that they were going to be warned that they could not see the television pictures over and over again.
Over and over again, the picture of a firefighter carrying the lifeless body of 1-year-old Baylee Almon was shown on television and carried in newspapers worldwide, which frightened children even more.
In the days after the bombing, children were shocked to see and hear that children their age were killed and wounded. This really frightened President Bill Clinton and the first lady, Hillary Clinton. In the first 2 days after the bombings, the Clintons asked aides to talk to child-care experts about what to tell children. On April 22, the Saturday after the bombing, the Clintons gathered 24 children of employees of agencies that had offices in the federal building in Oklahoma City.
In remarks broadcast live on television and radio, the Clintons talked to children about the bombing and answered questions that they may have had.
The effect on popular culture
The aftermath of the incident caused the issue to be a sore subject for many years to come. In May 1995, an episode of the soap opera All My Children was pulled at the last minute as a villainess on the program, Janet Green (Robin Mattson), plotted to blow up the church in which her ex was to marry her rival. ABC daytime executives thought the episode might be too upsetting for many viewers. The episodes were written and taped before the bombing and as a result of the show being pulled, a complete rewrite and new tape schedule had to be instituted. In the end, Janet charged in on the reception with gun in hand.
The 1998 X-Files movie, "The X-Files: Fight the Future," featured the bombing of a Federal office building in Dallas, and drew criticism for implying that the U.S. government was actually responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing.