I'm a little down today, so I'm writing this to help cheer myself up, as I recall the death of my friend 21 years ago.
My friend, Ted L. Allen, was 48 at the time of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, he worked on the 8th floor in the offices of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as an urban planner, where he was writing state-by-state regulations for homeless housing programs. Ted's body was among the very last of the 168 victims recovered from the site in the days that followed the disaster.
Ted was father to six children ranging in age from 4 to 22 (at the time of his death); in fact normally his youngest would have been in the building's child care center, but that day his wife was taking their 4-year-old to the Dr. after having dropped Ted off just minutes before the blast.
Ted's active sports involvement with his own children led him to spend many hours coaching youngsters in basketball and soccer. He was also an avid gardener, he took great pride in his lawn care and vegetable crops at his Norman home. Ted also loved trailer-camping, in fact one of the last 'good visits' I had with Ted not long before his death, was by sheer coincidence in which we had both stopped at the same 'rest area' along I-40 in Arkansas as he and his family were on their way back to Oklahoma from a camping trip.
A graduate of East Tennessee State University, Ted attended graduate school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. While living in Norman, home of the Sooners, he loved Oklahoma sports except when OU played Tennessee, especially in basketball.
Ted served as a planner for local governments in Alabama and North Carolina before joining HUD in Dallas, and then transferred to Oklahoma City in 1980. He left HUD in 1982 but rejoined the Oklahoma City office in 1991, after having served eight years as city planner in Moore. It was during his time at the City of Moore that we met and become close friends.
Ted, and 167 others, were taken from not only their families and loved ones that day, but all of us they served. But in the midst of the sorrow and tragedy, America and Oklahoma changed. We became stronger people with a greater sense of pride in those who serve us, no matter what their capacity, be that soldier, law enforcement personnel or even urban planners. Today, the Oklahoma City Memorial stands on the site of the former building as a symbol of strength and hope, but most of all remembrance, so 'we never forget.'