Apr 01, 2011
Westmoore sophomore, Amy Smith wasn’t even born when the Oklahoma City bombing ripped a hole in the American psyche. But she shares a strong, emotional connection with a bombing survivor who was trapped under rubble after the terrorist attack on the Murrah Building.
“I was buried under my own six feet of rubble,” Amy said in her essay that won first place in a national contest.
Each year, the Oklahoma City National Memorial hosts a contest in which high school students submit essays that answer a specific prompt. Although entering the essay contest would get her extra credit from her English teacher Jane Brewer, Amy decided to write an essay because this particular prompt spoke to her heart.
The prompt said, “I was literally trapped under six feet of rubble. However, all of us are trapped under the rubble of life at one point or another. I believe it is not what happens to us in life that defines us, but rather how we deal with what happens to us.” Instantly, Amy felt a connection and was compelled to write about her own struggles.
“I wrote about my own ‘rubble’, which was being anemic in seventh grade… that was really hard,” Amy said with tears in her eyes. “It was definitely easier to write about than to talk about. I don’t like to talk about it because it is sad.”
Not only does Amy share her name with the OKC Bombing survivor, she shares a fighting spirit. In her winning essay, Amy talked about feeling cold, shaky, ugly and pale. She did not understand what was happening to her; she did not know she was ill.
“People didn't understand that I was not myself or that I did not feel well,” Amy said in her essay. “I have shaped into a person I never thought I would be, a person who tries to be a fighter for those in need, someone who roots for the underdog.”
After winning first place in the national competition, Amy had the opportunity to meet Amy Petty at the awards ceremony. Amy said it was incredible to meet the person about whom she wrote her winning essay.
“Most people never get the chance to meet someone who has gone through something like the bombing,” Amy said. “The bombing is something that is in the heart of the state and country. I thought it would be cool to do something for the memorial that would go into the archives forever.”
Amy’s English teacher Jane Brewer said first place couldn’t have gone to a more deserving student. Mrs. Brewer said she really values this contest and encourages her students to enter.
“I’ve taught for 28 years and I can’t think of a time I was more happy for or proud of a student,” Brewer said tearfully. “I was elated. Amy is a great student but an even better person. Amy won $100 but she won so much personally.”
Along with writing the prompt, Amy Petty also judged the competition. Petty said Amy’s essay really spoke to her and touched her, Brewer said.
OKC Bombing survivor Amy Petty wrote this particular essay prompt. Each year, the Oklahoma City National Memorial hosts a contest in which high school students submit essays that answer a specific prompt.