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9/11: A Year After / WHO WE ARE NOW

Kathleen A. Treanor

September 11, 2002

Kathleen A. Treanor, 39, lost her 4-year-old daughter and her husband's parents in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. After Sept. 11, the stunned Guthrie, Okla., resident flew to New York to comfort the bereaved. But after Congress set up a compensation fund expected to pay, on average,

$1.65 million to relatives of the Sept. 11 terrorism victims, Treanor's grief was laced with anger.

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"I knew it was terrorism right away, there was no doubt in my mind. See, we always thought there would be more attacks. The first thing I said when the buildings came down, I said, 'Oh, my God, I've got to go to New York City.' That day I suffered with them. I came home and curled up in the fetal position and stayed there. I was devastated; I wept constantly. I knew. You can't begin to imagine.

My 4-year-old daughter and my mother-in-law and father-in-law were all killed in the attack here. They had a 9 a.m. appointment at Social Security. My father-in-law was getting ready to retire, and he had a mistake on his birth certificate, so he was trying to get it fixed. Wrong place, wrong time. It was hard for me to even find the will to live again.

I went to New York; I escorted the families to ground zero. We'd load up the ferries at Pier 94 and take the 20-minute trip, and the families would have a short time to view the site. They'd pray and grieve and cry.

It was just a few weeks later that Congress enacted the victim compensation fund, and they'd left us out. And I couldn't quite understand how they'd managed to do that. It was very hurtful. The more I read the more upset I got, and the more I realized we'd been totally shoved aside. We were no longer the tragedy of the day. We were the biggest act of terrorism in the United States. That all changed on Sept. 11. Not that I disliked having the focus off my family, but the fact that we were unceremoniously shoved aside and disregarded--I mean, that was a federal building, and one could argue that the government's own actions prompted Timothy McVeigh to do what he did.

They said no American should have to bear the act of terrorism alone. Well, we're victims of terrorism too. There are many who had nice homes, a typical, middle-class American life, and now they're living from cardboard boxes. In my case, we had 240 acres with cattle. My father-in-law had no life insurance. We let 80 acres go. Nobody bailed us out. We had to do it all ourselves.

Well, Pandora's box has been opened now, and now they need to make it right and they need to make it fair. So when the government said we're going to compensate victims, somebody had to scream loud and scream long.

I started writing letters to Congress and senators and got nowhere. Really, zero response. Finally I formed a group called Fairness for Oklahoma City. We rallied support to be included, and it's my understanding that now we will be included."

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As told to Megan K. Stack

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