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Okla. bombing victims' children build new lives

Posted by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 1:10 PM
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Dion Thomas' life began spiraling out of control after her mother was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, when the straight-A student started skipping classes and saw her grades slip to D's, F's and incompletes.

She stayed in her bedroom for days, unable to come out. No one let her see her mother's body to say goodbye, thinking it was better for her daughter to remember how she was alive.

"I pretty much almost dropped out of high school," said Thomas, who was a sophomore when her mother, Social Security Administration employee Charlotte Thomas, died in the April 19, 1995, attack.

Thomas limped to graduation with no idea what her future held. But 15 years later, she is a college graduate working toward an advanced degree in speech pathology at Howard University in Washington, D.C., all because of a fund that ensured her tuition would be covered because of the loss she suffered as a child.

More than 200 children had parents killed or disabled when an anti-government conspirator's truck bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Thomas and others have benefited from a continuing legacy of the attack: the outpouring of donations from people who wanted to help the families of the victims.

At the time of the blast, the children ranged from infants to teenagers. Suddenly, they were left to be raised by single parents or grandparents, were placed with other family members or sent to homes in other states.

With the scholarship money available, about two-thirds have since gone on to college or other education programs, and the graduates now include physicians, lawyers, veterinarians and pharmacists.

“Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.”
— John Sheehan, S.J.

by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 1:10 PM
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