View Full Version : A great story about Murrah

08-17-2004, 03:03 PM
"Murrahs give time to memorial

By Karen Klinka
The Oklahoman

Paul Murrah volunteers each Monday at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which occupies the site of a prominent city building that once bore his father's name. Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

Murrah's full name is Alfred Paul Murrah Jr.

Each Monday, he spends four hours taking tickets or assisting visitors coming to the memorial and museum, which honors the victims, survivors, rescuers and all who were changed forever April 19, 1995, when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City was bombed.

"Service as a volunteer is pleasurable," Murrah said this week. "Visitors come from all over the country and all over the world -- some can't even speak English -- but all leave here with a sense of appreciation, emotion and meaning.

"We all constantly get compliments on the memorial and museum, and everyone we talk to is always so glad they took the time to make a stop," the retired attorney said.

Kari Watkins, the memorial's executive director, said volunteers such as Paul Murrah not only are key to the memorial's smooth operation, but also serve as Oklahoma City's ambassadors.

"Frequently, our memorial volunteers may be the only Oklahoman that many visitors ever meet," Watkins said.

As a museum volunteer, Murrah frequently finds himself at a third-floor post only a few feet away from an exhibit about the Murrah Building and photographs of his father and family.

The federal building was named in honor of Paul Murrah's late father, Judge Alfred P. Murrah, who in 1936 at age 32 became the youngest man in history appointed as a U.S. district judge.

The Murrah Building was dedicated in Judge Murrah's memory in 1977, two years after his death. He died at the age of 71 in 1975.

Paul Murrah said he remembers the dedication ceremony -- just as he remembers where he was when the bomb exploded.

In 1995, Murrah said, he was on a trip in south Texas, interviewing students for a scholarship program.

When Murrah returned to Oklahoma City two days later, the scope of the tragedy and its effects on the community hit him full-force, he said.

"I felt so guilty about not rushing home right afterward," Murrah said.

Murrah also felt relief that his mother, who had died about nine months before the bombing, did not witness the tragedy and all the pain it caused in the community, he said.

"She would have been totally devastated," Murrah said.

Although Murrah attended the dedication of the national memorial in 2000, he was not involved in the project or in the museum's planning and construction.

When the museum opened in 2001, a longtime friend asked for his help in setting up a training program for volunteers. Murrah said he decided he needed to become a volunteer before trying to recruit others.

Murrah found the experience so meaningful it prompted him to persuade his sister, Sue Murrah Wadley, to become a volunteer, too.

Wadley volunteers each Monday afternoon along with her brother.

"It's very rewarding and it's a way to give something back to the community," Wadley said.

The sister and brother both said if their parents were still alive, they would be volunteers at the memorial and museum as well.

"I'm very, very proud of this museum and memorial, and I know both my parents would be, too," Murrah said. "It's far more appropriate and more beautiful than I ever imagined it would be.

"It gets across to all who visit the message of how our community was changed and grew stronger as a result of the tragedy."