Family That Lost Three Members Buries Two, Remembers One
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The woman whose leg was amputated to free her from the rubble of the bombing briefly left a hospital Saturday to face an even greater loss: her two children and mother.
Dana Bradley attended the funeral service of her 44-year-old mother, Cheryl Hammons, and her 3-year-old daughter, Peachlyn. The service also served as a memorial for her infant son, Gabreon Bruce.
Gabreon’s remains were among the last to be pulled from the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on Thursday, and haven’t yet been turned over to the family. He was nearly 4 months old when he was killed in the explosion.
Two white coffins rested side by side in Greater New Zion Baptist Church. A teddy bear fashioned from yellow crepe paper was propped up between them on a stand and balloons drifted over the coffin of the little girl, who would have turned 4 on Saturday.
At least 100 mourners, including five uniformed Oklahoma City firefighters and a doctor who helped amputate Ms. Bradley’s leg, heard the minister speak of the lessons of adversity.
``Those men and women who served a rescue agents will never be the same,″ the Rev. Moses Howard Jr. said. ``We will have better people out of this.″
The firefighters got a standing ovation in the middle of the service.
Dr. Gary Massad, who helped extract Ms. Bradley from the rubble, said he had ``never seen any more bravery or courage than Dana Bradley had in those few hours that I got to know her.″
``I have drawn strength from Dana Bradley. I would not have been able to survive the tragedy that Dana Bradley has survived,″ he said.
Ms. Bradley, 20, who is still recovering from her injuries, attended the funeral in a wheelchair. She didn’t speak at the service and returned to the hospital without talking to reporters.
Some of the mourners wept loudly, others clapped and sang along as a minister sang a gospel song, ``I Know I’ve Been Changed.″
Howard told the audience it was all right to cry.
``Tears are there to help us in this pressure cooker of life,″ he said. ``It is not a sign of weakness. These fellows that planted the bomb, they should have cried some, and maybe they would not have gone to that extent.″
Ms. Hammons had accompanied her two daughters and two grandchildren to the federal building to obtain a Social Security card for Gabreon.
Ms. Bradley and her 23-year-old sister, Falesha, were the only ones to come out alive, though both were injured. Falesha Bradley was discharged from a hospital Friday.
Five miles away, some 1,500 friends and relatives of the 167 people killed in the April 19 terrorist attack filed past the bombed-out building, many of them clutching their children and weeping.
Howard challenged the church audience to move beyond its grief.
``Let’s go on,″ he said. ``Let’s see what devastation of this nature can do to the lives of people and let’s learn from it.″
The strength and grace Ms. Bradley showed during her ordeal, he said, should be a source of pride to her and the entire state.
``Folks tried to ignore us, now they are learning from us,″ he said. ``Oklahoma, we win.″