A Look Back At Oklahoma's Response To 9/11

Sunday, September 11th 2011, 3:15 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

UNDATED -- As we reflect on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, for some Oklahomans it was like it happened yesterday. Some of Oklahoma's Own made a difference at Ground Zero.

On 9/11, Oklahomans immediately felt a connection to New York. As the Twin Towers fell, a rise in compassion happened in many Oklahomans.

Immediately, Oklahomans of all ages wanted to help. We prayed. Donations poured in to the Red Cross - from children bringing pennies to school, to firefighters passing the boot to raise money for families of fallen firefighters.

Oklahomans combined compassion with creativity. Things like a Lube-A-Thon to raise money, and a little girl just 11 years old at the time, who was so touched by the tragedy, she sang at a WalMart for donations to send to New York.

Shortly after the towers went down, spirit fences went up in Oklahoma – including the fence around the Murrah bomb site.

9/10/2011 Related Story: Oklahomans Fly 'Old Glory' To Commemorate 9/11

We emptied our pockets, and many Oklahomans lined up to give blood.

Our state sent Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Teams and others to Ground Zero. Sam Porter and four other Oklahoma chaplains were called because of their grim resumes - the Murrah building - and the Midwest City tornadoes.

"It's the very same scenario as Oklahoma City, just multiplied by thousands instead of 168," said Sam Porter of the Baptist Disaster Relief team.

Tulsa Police Officer Roy Heim was part of a team that worked 12-hour shifts for 15 straight days, to identify body parts and get them back to their families.

"It's so rewarding to see families - in a terrible situation like this - get some peace," Heim said.

An Oklahoma City Chaplain counseled many of the firefighters and rescue workers digging day after day through the rubble - trying to remind them of the goodness of humanity and the small, everyday joys of life.

Search dogs from Oklahoma and their handlers, also helped at Ground Zero.

Those are just some of the stories of Oklahomans showing a willingness to make a difference 10 years ago, empathy reinforced by our own tragedies, and shared during a time when kindness was needed most.