OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (KETK) – Oklahoma City marked a sad and somber anniversary Sunday with a commemoration of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
The April 19, 1995, bombing by former Army soldier Timothy McVeigh and his co-conspirator, Terry Nichols killed 168 people, including 19 children, in what is considered the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.
The city marks the anniversary every year by gathering at the memorial where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood before it was destroyed, but this year’s remembrance ceremony, like so many other events, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Forced by events to change to a strictly online commemoration, organizers put together a video tribute that included the reading of the names of those who died followed by 168 seconds of silence. The video includes by former President Bill Clinton, who was president at the time of the bombing, U.S. Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt and Tony award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenowith, an Oklahoma native.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, which hosts the remembrance every year, is built on the site where the Murrah building stood. The memorial site, whose peaceful atmosphere sits in stark contrast to the terrible violence it commemorates, features bronze gates that mark time, 9:01 and 9:03 a.m., with a reflection pond between them representing 9:02, the minute the explosion permanently altered lives and the nation. Stylized, empty metal chairs represent each person who died, and the “Survivor Tree,” a gnarled American elm that withstood the blast, now stands on a small hill and shades the memorial below.
Those who survived are celebrated with names etched in granite blocks that were part of the federal building, and the Rescuers’ Orchard pays tribute to those first responders and volunteers who rushed in to aid the victims.
And just as they did 25 years ago in the aftermath of the horror, visitors to the site still leave mementos on the fence at the site to pay tribute to the victims who died in the blast.