We all remember terrorist attacks on America’s World Trade Center. Just say “9/11” and the images of planes crashing into the skyscrapers come in our mind. Terrorist attacks on September 11 were the bloodiest on American soil. But do you remember which was the nastiest terrorist attack on American soil before 9/11? Well, it was Oklahoma City Bombing.
And it was carried out by an American!
Timothy McVeigh and his accomplices detonated a truck containing 2300 kilograms of explosives near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on 19 April 1995. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children under the age of 6, and injured more than 800 people. It also destroyed 324 buildings and 86 cars. A total damage of $652 million was estimated because of this explosion. McVeigh had some grudges against the federal government and decided to take revenge in such a deadly way.
The presented photograph became iconic and is most associated with the event. It was taken by Charles Porter. It features a firefighter named Chris Fields holding a dying baby in his arms. The baby’s name was Baylee Almon. After the bomb detonation, it was only destruction and fire all around. The police, firefighters and locals were rummaging through the debris in hope to find survivors. Suddenly, a police sergeant John Avera located Baylee Almon’s tiny and half-burned body. Avera shouted “I have a critical infant! I have a critical infant!” and gave the one-year old baby to the Oklahoma City fire Captain, Chris Fields. The baby could not be saved. He died in a hospital located near the site of explosion.
This photograph earned Charles Porter the Pulitzer prize for Spot News Photography in 1996. Another photographer named Lester LaRue was standing only three feet away from Porter and took a similar photo –but it was Porter’s photo that was chosen for the prize. Charles Porter was not really a photographer. He was the employee of a utility company.
Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death and was executed on 11 June 2001 by administering a lethal injection. Incidentally, exactly 3 months after McVeigh’s execution —the September 11 attacks took place.
In May 1995, whatever was left of the Murrah building was demolished for the safety reasons. Now a national memorial stands at that site.
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