Jim Denny on effects of Oklahoma City bombing six years later
One hundred sixty-eight seconds of silence fell across Oklahoma City on April 19, one second for each person who died when a bomb ripped through the Alfred P. Murrah federal building six years ago. Emotions at this year’s anniversary were underscored by the impending execution of convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Jim Denny is the father of now nine-year-old Brandon Denny, and now eight-year-old Rebecca Denny. Both children were severely injured in the bombing while staying at the Murrah Building's Day Care Center. Brandon's injuries were the most severe, including a major head trauma, where his brain was exposed. When this happened, Denny was working in the oil industry. He has been a motivational speaker in the past three years, and in February announced his intent to pursue the Republican nomination for Oklahoma's governor.
CNN Moderator: Welcome to CNN, Jim Denny.
Jim Denny: I'd like to say hello to everyone and thank you for being with us today on this very special day. Not "just" the sixth anniversary of the Oklahoma tragedy, but just because I like to speak to people who have concerns about other people and I'd like to share some of the positive wonderful things that have happened to our family in the last 6 years.
CNN Moderator: How has the bombing and its aftermath affected you and your children?
Jim Denny: Well, the bombing obviously affected Oklahoma, America and the world. For me personally, it has given me and my entire family the opportunity to look at life in a different way. Before the tragedy, we took one day at a time; now, we take one minute at a time and enjoy every minute of every day like it's our last. This is the way we live and it's a good life.
From the chat room: By commemorating the tragedy, are we not giving McVeigh a continual forum?
Jim Denny: The simple answer is: no. Tim McVeigh could not have picked a better place to commit this act of terrorism than Oklahoma City because of the exposure. But he could not have picked a worse state because of the people, just Oklahomans. We are strong, intelligent, capable; we will not give in to terrorism of any kind and we will not be intimidated.
From the chat room: Again, I am sorry for your loss. Are you confident that all individuals responsible for this heinous act are in custody?
Jim Denny: Yes. The Federal Bureau of Investigations continues to this day to investigate the possibility of more peoples involvement. I know this because I have met with Director Freeh of the FBI and I know how concerned and heartbroken he is and there is nothing else there. There are 2 people that are involved, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and I am totally at ease that these are the only 2 that are involved.
From the chat room: Mcveigh has gotten more coverage than the victims. What do you think of that?
Jim Denny: Tim McVeigh is a terrorist. I say this without anger, but Tim McVeigh continues his terrorism from prison with the publication of a recent book and the statements he has made in the book. If Tim McVeigh had had his way, he would have killed all 350 people in the building. We need to focus on terrorism and that it can happen any place and at any time. If we let our guard down, it could happen again. So, I think the focus should remain on Tim McVeigh until at least May 16th. Justice will be served on that day.
From the chat room: This is a sad moment for all American's. Were you surprised an American committed this act of terrorism?
Jim Denny: No. The reason is I did an interview one day after the tragedy when everyone was speaking of a mid-east connection, and I stated in the interview, which was a national interview, that this could very possibly be an American. We have some very violent, evil people in America, and it doesn't surprise me at all. I really almost resented that we pointed the finger at another country without any real evidence stating that fact.
From the chat room: How do you feel regarding the whole media/T. McVeigh execution issue? Do you think we, the public, should be privy to the execution?
Jim Denny: There is a very fine line between revenge and justice. Speaking for me personally, I believe that the execution is justice. The media is focusing on the execution because of the crime’s magnitude and the way Tim McVeigh seems to come across with this "I don't care" type of attitude. I will say this: our family, because of the positive nature of the story, has done over 200 interviews. We have the highest respect for the media and the way they have covered our story in a very accurate way. I really believe that the media gets what I would call a "bad rap". The media covers the news, and Tim McVeigh's execution is big news.
From the chat room: Are you planning to watch the execution?
Jim Denny: No. That would be something that would not be positive for our family and our future. For me personally, I do not care to see someone die. My fear for the other victims is that once he is strapped to the table, Tim McVeigh will be allowed to make one last statement. One can only imagine what he will say to the victims of this tragedy. We, as a family, concentrate on doing things that move us forward. This, for us, would be a step back.
From the chat room: What would you say to the anti-death penalty protestors, if any show up on May 16th?
Jim Denny: I would say they have that right. I believe the death penalty is a deterrent to capital crime and for people who use a weapon of mass destruction. The protestors have a right to protest, and this is the way it should be handled in America when you don't like something that's happening, not with physical violence against another person to make a point.
CNN Moderator: In spite of the violence and tragedy that resulted from this bombing, you have said that McVeigh really hasn't won. What do you mean by that?
Jim Denny: A terrorist tries to break people's wills and their ability to move forward. He hasn't done that in Oklahoma. In a very cowardly way, Tim McVeigh murdered 168 innocent people and three unborn babies. As Oklahomans and Americans, we stand strong, united together.
CNN Moderator: You have said that it is foolish for McVeigh not to complete the appellate process available to him. Why do you say this?
Jim Denny: Every time an anti-government protestor, whether it be a terrorist or a member of an anti-American group, gets turned down and rejected by a Court of Appeals, it's really a victory for their side. I don't think Tim McVeigh really understands the consequences, how final death really is and that he will not be a martyr.
CNN Moderator: What do you want people to remember about this incident and what can we as a nation learn from it?
Jim Denny: As a nation, we learned truly how strong we are. We were put to the test, and we passed the test. This terrorist attack strengthened Oklahoma, America and the world. It strengthened something that Tim McVeigh did not rely on, which is our justice system in America. We have an anti-terrorism bill as a result of this. We have a counter-terrorism center in Washington. We have more agents involved in domestic and international terrorism, and we are just a very, very strong people.
CNN Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Jim Denny.
Jim Denny: Thank you very much. Thank you for your prayers not just for our family, but for all the families that are involved. I hope to talk to all of you very soon.
Jim Denny joined us from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; CNN is provided a typist. The above is an edited transcript of the chat which took place on Thursday, April 19 at 6 p.m. EDT.
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