BOISE -- With tragedies in West, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts, another U.S. city marked the anniversary of another deadly day. It was 18 years ago that Timothy McVeigh parked a rental truck full of explosives in front of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. He detonated the truck bomb, killing 168 people and injuring more than 600 others. He was later tried, convicted and then executed in 2001.
A woman who lived in Oklahoma City when the bombing took place is now here in Boise. She is a trained EMT and didn't think twice to rush to the the scene after the bombing. Dani Demaree was among the first responders and EMTs at the Oklahoma City bombing. But she also knew many people who worked in the Oklahoma City federal building. Friday, 18 years after the bombing, she reflected on her experience, and empathized with those mourning right now in Massachusetts, and Texas.
Dani Demaree remembers April 19, 1995. Demaree served in the Air Force and worked as an emergency medical technician.
I thought I was prepared. I was trained to save lives, and there were few lives to save. It was very difficult to go in and search for people that might be alive and have to mark places where bodies were found, said Demaree.
Having worked in the federal government, she was friends of acquaintances with many people who were in the Alfred P. Murrah Building. But that day, the faces were unfamiliar.
That was hard because I couldn't recognize them. I didn't know who I was with or who I was helping. What I knew was that my job was to help. And for a while a felt that I had failed because I did not feel as though I had saved anybody, she said.
She was comforted by a tree near the building with a single leaf waving.
Just like it was saying, 'you better believe I'm strong,' Demaree said.
Later, she was given a sapling cultivated from that tree. She brought it in a box from Oklahoma to Idaho. Today that survivors' tree is planted outside the federal building in Boise.
Watching the news out of Boston and West, Texas, she thinks about April 19.
I think about the rescue workers that go in, I think about the families, I think about the children and the people that were around that experienced it and they don't understand what happened. And frankly I still don't understand. What I do understand is that it did happen, said Demaree.
She feels the pain many Americans felt this week. She shared some memorabilia with us. But she doesn't need things to remember what happened each and every day.
I honestly cannot say there's not a day that I don't have a moment, a thought about it, a memory, a person that I knew, a friend that I had. And I'll often just say, 'hey I missed you. I miss you,' she said.
Demaree said it was just too emotionally painful to stay in Oklahoma City after the bombing. She lived in Boise in the 1970s, and decided to come back. She hopes to save up enough money to go back to Oklahoma City for the 20th anniversary of the bombing in 2015.
Demaree also said she was greatly affected by what she saw. She encourages anyone who feels what they went through is affecting them to talk to someone.