On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a Ryder truck containing a bomb outside of the Oklahoma City federal building. The bomb left 168 people dead and 650 people injured, nineteen of the victims were infants and children. The bombing was one of the worst acts of terrorism pre-dating 9/11. Five years later, The Oklahoma City National Memorial was built on the ruins of the former Oklahoma City Federal Building. In addition to the devastation and loss of life, the bombing shaped an entire generation of children. Generation Y includes children born between 1980 and 1999. They are the first generation to see traumatic events frequently as a result, in the rise of technology.
The children of Generation Y are now twenty years older and many of them are gearing up for the Oklahoma City Marathon. The marathon hosts over 25,000 runners this year; more than half of them are between the ages of 16 and 35. In addition to the marathon, the 8th annual Ride to Remember Memorial Motorcycle Run was held on April 18th, 2015. According to a survey conducted by Virginia Tech, the average age of a motorcyclist in the state of Oklahoma is 31. There were over 1,600 riders who participated in the event. The Oklahoma City Marathon and The Ride to Remember Memorial Motorcycle Run raise funds to keep the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum in operation, since it does not receive funds from the federal, state or local government.
Matt Stafford is one of the many millennials running the marathon on Friday. In 1995, he was ten years old and remembers the tragedy in vivid detail. “In the days to come, we learned more about what had happened. I saw the gut-wrenching images of destruction. I heard the stories of unimaginable pain that families were experiencing.” Matt’s story is like many others who are running in the marathon on Friday. Members of this generation have been shaped by traumatic events like the Oklahoma Bombing; however, they have not been shattered by the events. These events transformed an entire generation to give back to their communities and to remain resilient when challenged by adversity. The U.S Chamber of Commerce reports more than half of Generation Y volunteer their time in comparison to Generation X.
This resilience and sense of community have not come without their price, according to a study done by the American Psychological Association; Generation Y is the most stressed generation over all other generations. The elevated stress levels can lead to heart disease, headaches, and depression and anxiety. However, there is hope. Generation Y is more open with their family and friends compared to other generations; they are also more open to the idea of counseling and other therapeutic practices.
Twenty years later an Oklahoma’s Generation Y remains strong and resilient, honoring those who have died tragically, lifting communities up in the face of adversity, and educating Generation Z about the impact of terrorism on our nation. The Oklahoma City bombing shaped an entire generation at the cost of 168 lives, but through it all Generation Y has risen above the rest by giving back a piece of themselves to family and community. This conveys a great deal for a generation that is typically thought of as lazy and narcissistic.
This article was written by Laurell Morse, a writer for dusk magazine.