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April 19, 1996 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-19

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 19, 1996- 5


symbols of
Los Angeles Times
OKLAHOMA CITY - The wheez-
ing echoes likea foghorn, one raspy gasp
after another, signaling his presence long
before he comes into sight. It is an unset-
tling noise, guttural and frantic, a battle
for air that sounds all the more tortured
oming from such a tiny child.
But P.J. Allen, the most critically in-
jdred toddler to survive the federal build-
ing attack last April 19, is as delightful
andbedeviling as anormal 2 1/2-year-old
boy can be. Sprinting through the house,
he seems mercifully unaware of his con-
dition, of the singed lungs that rob him of
oxygen, of the tracheotomy tube that de-
livers each breath through a small, surgi-
cally fashioned hole in his neck.
0 "This is P.J.'s ball," he puffs, buf-
feting a visitor wvith a well-aimed
pitch. Only after several hours of
whirlwind play does he finally re-
quire a break: Performing a ritual re-
peated six times every day and night,
P.J.'s grandparents tether him to a
vaporizer, pumping a soothing me-
dicinal mist into the incision at the
base of his throat.
"People ask, 'Will he ever have a
ormallife?"'says Deloris Watson, P.J.'s
*randmother and legal guardian. "Well,
this will have to be normal for him. This
is as normal as it's going to get."
A year ago, even such a grave prog-
nosis would have been considered opti-
mistic. As one ofjust sixchildren pulled
alive from America's Kids, the Alfred
P. Murrah Federal Building's ravaged
day-care center, P.J. was little more
than a bundle of gauze, his charred
*ody sustained only by an ominous
maze of wires and tubing.
It was an image of fragility, a viola-
tion of innocence, that struck at the
heart of Oklahoma City's loss. With
168 dead, 19 of them children, these six
were the lucky ones - a notion some-
House OKs
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON -The House yes-
terday gave final approval to a compro-
mise bill aimed at fighting terrorism
andcrime, sending the measure to Presi-
A ent Clinton in time to mark today's
frst anniversary of the Oklahoma City
Clinton plans to sign the bill early
next week even though it does not in-
clude some of the most stringent anti-
terrorism proposals he sought, accord-
ing to senior White House adviser
George Stephanopoulos, who said
Clinton will push for their passage in
separate legislation.
The legislation includes unprec-
dented curbs on federal appeals by
death-row inmates as well as tougher
penalties for terrorist crimes and
strengthened governmental powers to
exclude suspected foreign terrorists
from the United States.

The bill was approved by a bipartisan
vote of 293 to 133 in the climax of a
year-long struggle during which it al-
most fell victim to an unlikely coalition
of liberals and conservatives who found
*ommon cause in opposition to expan-
sion of government law enforcement

Mysteries still
haunt bombing

The Washington Post
OKLAHOMA CITY - In the fran-
tic days following the bombing of a
federal building here - even after the
FBI had two prime suspects in custody
- dozens of witnesses continued to
insist that another man was involved.
John Doe No. 2 was seen driving the
yellow truck allegedly used in the blast
and even emerging from the vehicle
just moments before it exploded.
But a massive manhunt for this mys-
tery man with olive-skin and a baseball
cap turned up nothing. And today, the
government admits it still has no idea
who John Doe No. 2 is, or whether he
even exists.
This is just one of the many mysteries
and unanswered questions that swirl
around the April 19, 1995, bombing of
the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in
which 168 people were killed in the worst
case of mass murder in U.S. history.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols

await trial on I I counts of conspiracy
and murder in Denver, where a judge
moved the case after deciding the two
men could not get a fair trial in Okl&
homa. A court date has not yet been set.
With no consistent eyewitnesses
from the scene and no confessions,
the enigmas loom large. Among them:
Was a second truck involved in the
bombing and if so, who drove it? If
Nichols was part of the conspiracy,
why do two friends, who have turned
state's evidence, say Nichols wanted
out of the conspiracy months before
the bombing? If the two orchestrated
a robbery to finance their plot, as the
government alleges, then why is the
case officially unsolved and no rob-
ber identified?
Government sources acknowledge that
unresolved questions could create doubt
in the minds ofa death-penalty case jury,
when the case eventually comes to trial
later this year or early next year.

Jamie Humphrey (right) of Prue, Okla., weeps at the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City,
yesterday morning. At left is Brandle Millbum, holding Jamie's 5-year-old sister, Kelsey.

times hard to reconcile with the swol-
len, expressionless faces framed like
masks by their swaddled heads.
Today, as a cavalcade of tributes and
prayers marks the one-year anniversary
of the bombing, the six youthful survi-
vors remain sym-
bols - of
Oklahoma'sregen- This it
erative spirit and of
the many shattered normal a
lives that may
never fully mend. going to
Each of the six
has overcome im-
posing obstacles, Survivor
testing the limits
of technology and faith. Finally freed
from the paralysis of catheters and ven-
tilators, some have graduated to tram-
polines and pony rides. Silenced by the
loss of brain tissue, others have learned
to speak anew, thrilling their parents
with "mama" and "papa" as if it were
the first time.
As inspiring as their stories are, they
also mirror all that is unresolved about
Oklahoma City's recovery, the physi-


cal wounds as well as the psychic scars.
Some of the children still have debris
lodged in theirbodies, metal pinsjoining
their bones, chunks of skull missing un-
der their scalps. Others still require plas-
tic surgery to restore disfigured faces
and occupational
therapy to retrain
deadened limbs. A
few have been
it'S rushed back to the
emergency room,
t _infection threaten-
ing to undo all of
eloris Watson their gains.
5 grandmother Even if those

ered with more attention than 4-year-
old Brandon Denny, who was pulled
from the rubble along with his sister,
Rebecca. Her wounds were mostly su-
perficial, the explosion having scorched
her left side like a sandblaster. But
Brandon was less fortunate, losing por-
tions of his brain when the bomb ripped
a hole through the back of his skull.
Still, he is now able to walk, albeit
with the aid of a brace on his right leg.
He has begun to talk again, even if he
struggles to string together sentences.
More importantly, he can throw his
arms around his father and kiss him on
the lips, finally returning the affection
that Jim Denny lavished on his son in
those first anguished days.
"This is kind of the success story out
of all the death and destruction," Denny
"This is hope and healing right here,"
his wife, Claudia, adds.
Eager to share theirjoy over Brandon's
continued recuperation, they have been
granting interviews nearly every day for
the last month, even jetting to New York
this week, courtesy of NBC and CBS.

A chance to MAKE YOUR
POINT to the University..


wounds heal, the
memory of what they have endured
will not soon fade. The media spot-
light, shunned by some families and
embraced by others, has transformed
several of the children into pint-sized
celebrities. It also has ensured that
their identities, like so many other as-
pects of life in post-bombing Okla-
homa, remain inextricably linked to
the horror of last April 19.
None of the children has been show-

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return the survegl
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