The Edmond Sun


May 24, 2013

Spirit of Oklahoma strong in tornadoes

EDMOND — It took just a few minutes for it all to happen. Warm, moist air collided with cold, dry air like it does so often here in Tornado Alley. This time though was a little different. In less than a few dozen minutes a violent tornado was barreling down on the neighborhoods of Moore. Watching the live news coverage, we all could tell that this storm changed many lives forever.

As the fury passed by the totality of the destruction suddenly became clear. Schools, filled with children and teachers, were destroyed. Cars, many passively sitting in parking lots, were thrown into buildings. Neighborhoods, once populated with hundreds of homes, were leveled. Sheets of metal were twisted around trees stripped of all their leaves. Twenty-four lives were lost.

In this dark moment though, the Oklahoma spirit was rekindled. In this time when the world was focused on another Oklahoma tragedy, the world saw the Oklahoma spirit rise. It’s not a surprise, and it’s nothing new…for we’ve seen more than our share of tragedy. But this pain has only made us stronger, more resilient, more committed to building a better life right here on this grand land.

Just as the strongest steel comes from the hottest fire, the strongest people arise from the deepest pain.

It’s that strength that lets us get up when we get knocked down, that lets us keep moving forward when we think another step is impossible, that lets us keep hoping for a better tomorrow when all hope seems lost. We are strong. We are resilient. We are hopeful.

We are a people who came to this state with little but big hopes and audacious dreams eager to claim a piece of land and build a life for our children. We are a people who have seen the winds sweep away our soil and our livelihoods, but never our hope. We are a people who have seen our two most famous early Oklahomans die in a single fateful plane crash. We are a people who have seen first-hand the horrors of domestic terrorism and senseless violence. And we are a people who have been battered by more than a century of deadly tornadoes.

Because we’ve been through so much, we are a people who get perturbed when those on our nation’s coasts look down their noses at us. We are a people who get irritated when others tell us how we should live, or what we should believe. We are a people who cringe when others see our waving wheat fields as only flyover country.

We know that we are not perfect, but we are good, we are compassionate and we are giving. It is this spirit which led the teachers at Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary this week to use their bodies to shield students from tornado debris. It was this spirit that enabled law enforcement officers to stand in the way of the oncoming tornado to divert traffic from the storm’s path. It was this spirit that compelled Oklahomans around the globe to rush to the aid of their friends and neighbors.

In times of tragedy like we saw last Monday, it is this Oklahoma spirit that lifts us up and carries us forward.

We will never forget what we’ve lost. We will never forget the pain we endure. But this week reminded the world that regardless of what tragedies befall us, regardless of how dark our days get, Oklahomans will endure.

That we will eventually be OK.

For we know, better than most, that at the end of this storm the sun will shine on us again.

MICKEY HEPNER is the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma. Hepner serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for The Oklahoma Academy.

Text Only
  • Bangladesh’s sweatshops — a boycott is not the answer

    One year ago this week, the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka, killing 1,129 people. The building’s top floors had been added illegally, and their weight caused the lower stories to buckle. Many of the victims were young women who had been sewing low-priced clothes for Western brands, earning a minimum wage of about $9 a week. It was the worst disaster in garment industry history.

    April 24, 2014

  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results