April 19, 1995, changed the lives of Oklahomans forever. Children became orphans, parents buried their babies, and innocence was shattered.
Cory Nicholson, OCU basketball player, was just 5 years old that day. But he says there's no denying the Murrah Federal Building bombing defined him.
"My name could have very well been on that wall, I could have had a chair outside," said Nicholson.
Nearly 17 years ago, Nicholson attended daycare at the Murrah Federal Building. A bout of strep throat on April 19 may have saved his life. He stayed home sick from daycare that day.
"I got up from my bed in the middle of the night," said Nicholson recalling April 19. "I came into my mom's room and stood at her bed. I said to her, 'Mom, there are angels out tonight.'"
He now says he has no doubt one of those angels was his little friend Zackary Chavez. Nicholson said he wasn't sure if Zack had survived the attack until a couple years ago, when he went to the memorial looking for his chair.
"I had one of those kinda prickly feelings you get when someone is watching you and I kind of just felt like I should turn, and I did, and his chair was right there in front of me," said Nicholson. "I actually cried pretty hard at that moment in time and dropped to my knees and prayed and talked to him. I just said 'hey buddy I'm here.'"
Nicholson has been back to visit Zack's chair several times, but he'd never been inside the museum until September 8, when he went as a team-building exercise with his fellow OCU basketball team.
"Multiple times I got choked up and every time I'd have somebody put an arm around me and say how are you doing?"
When Nicholson now visits the memorial, it's in times of trouble and hardship. Ironically, it's here he says he finds peace.
"There's a reason that I'm here. I say keep going and try to bring these people honor with my life," Nicholson said.