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May 16, 2014

Noakes recalls Murrah bombing during Norman Rotary Club

NORMAN — Nearly 20 years after the incident, one woman still remembers the details of a tragic morning that remains a part of Oklahoma’s history.

Melva Noakes, author of “April Mourning: The story of the Murrah Building Day Care,” recounts her experience as the day care’s founder and director the morning of the bombing on April 19, 1995.

Noakes spoke at the weekly Norman Rotary Club meeting Thursday afternoon to share her experience and memories of the event. After all of these years, Noakes said the book was an opportunity for her to sort through memories of the event as they happened.

“I wanted to tell my side of the story,” she said.

And she did.

Published in early February, the recent release of her book has prompted Noakes to revisit the morning she, and so many other Oklahomans, will never forget.

From the impact to the aftermath, Noakes’ book provides an inside look at the day of the bombing and the children’s lives she was a part of.

Of the 21 children in the day care center that morning, only two survived the blast. Noakes not only lost the children she had worked so hard to take care of but also three staff members who had helped her.

However, the trauma of loss was not the only thing that lingered in the years following the tragedy. For seven years, Noakes said she dealt with 375 lawsuits pressed against her.

In her book, she describes the legal battles as emotional nightmares, but perseverance through the issues helped her realize there was still hope.

Despite the tragedy of the event, Noakes said Oklahomans have learned from the pain of the bombing, pushing through with resilience, just as they have with recent tornadoes.

“It just goes to show how everyone pulls together,” Noakes said, “and how the spirit of Oklahoma just keeps on growing.”

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