Backstory

On April 19, 1995, the United States of America was changed forever when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City. This attack is commonly known as “The Oklahoma City Bombing.” 168 people were killed including 19 children. Beauty for Ashes is a feature film that explores the personal journeys of parents, firefighters and medical workers whose lives were sewn together as they battled grief and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and as they unexpectedly discovered the power that was within them to turn their tragedies into triumphs.

Inspiration

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” – Isaiah 61: 1-3

The Stories

Captain Chris Fields – As the fires raged, rescue services and bystanders rushed to pull victims out of the twisted wreckage. Sifting through the rubble, Police Officer John Avera found a small half-buried body. Shouting: “I have a critical infant! I have a critical infant!” he thrust the one year-old Baylee Almon into the arms of nearby Oklahoma City Firefighter, Captain Chris Fields. As Chris checked Baylee for signs of life, two amateur photographers both raised their cameras. Lester LaRue and Charles Porter standing just three feet apart, yet unaware of each other, snapped the image that came to symbolize the victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing (famouspictures.org). While the public lauded Chris as a hero, he privately fought bouts of depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while struggling with guilt for “not being able to save more people.

Amy Downs – Amy Downs worked as a teller and then as a loan officer in the Federal Employees Credit Union in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Because nearly every employee in the building had an account with the credit union, Amy Downs had a relationship with over 100 of the 168 people who died in the Bombing. The devastating explosion caused Amy to fall three stories into a pit in the ground where she was buried under 10 feet of rubble. At 5’3” and 355lbs, Amy wondered if her large frame would make it more difficult for her to be freed, and while she contemplated whether she would live or die, she told God that if He gave her another chance at life, she would make significant changes and live her life to the fullest. After a 6 hour-long rescue operation, Amy was freed from the Bombing rubble. She healed from her injuries, learned to walk again, lost 200 lbs, went back to school to attain her undergraduate and graduate degrees, climbed the corporate ladder and is now the CEO of the institution which was renamed the Allegiance Credit Union–the same building she was buried under.

Daina Bradley – Daina Bradley was in the Social Security Office with her mother, sister, daughter and son. While filling out paperwork, Daina people-watched through the office’s large glass window. She noticed a man illegally park a Ryder moving truck next to the Murrah Building. Unbeknownst to Daina at the time, the man was Timothy McVeigh, and he had lit a fuse to ignite the devastating bomb before he calmly strolled across the street. The bomb killed each of Daina’s family members except for her sister who suffered brain damage and the loss of an ear. Trapped in the rubble and facing the threat of hypothermia as cold water from busted pipes surrounded her, Daina could only be rescued from the bombing rubble by having her right leg amputated on the scene. Daina would later bravely serve as a key witness during the McVeigh trial revealing what she saw through the window on that fateful day.

Dr. Raymund King – Dr. Raymund King was a Chief Resident Surgeon at the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center formerly known as the Oklahoma Memorial Hospital. Raymund treated victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. The hospital was only six blocks away from ground zero, and it issued a code black calling for all medical staff to receive patients in the Emergency Room. Raymund personally witnessed the deaths of 17 victims on that tragic day and subsequently suffered from repressed memories.

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