We Remember: Survivor’s Story

On April 19, 1995, Melissa McLawhorn Houston was only three months into her first job out of law school as a staff attorney for the Oklahoma Truth in Sentencing Policy Advisory Commission. Her office on the third floor of the Journal Record building overlooked a parking lot with a large American elm tree in the middle of it. Directly across the street was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

She was sitting at her desk reviewing criminal statutes when all of a sudden “her hair blew straight up… then the ceiling caved in and the walls and all that.” But she doesn’t remember hearing the explosion itself.

In this poignant survivor interview, Melissa recounts the moments and days after the bombing, how the life-changing experience ignited in her a passion for public service, and how she was able to focus her energy to help victims’ families and fellow survivors and assist in the passage of habeas corpus reform and antiterrorism legislation.


April 19, 2020