View Full Version : Oklahoma City Marks Bombing Anniversary

04-19-03, 12:36 PM
Oklahoma City Marks Bombing Anniversary

Associated Press Writer
Apr. 19, 2003 9:07 am PST

OKLAHOMA CITY - One hundred and sixty-eight seconds of silence were observed in a service Saturday morning, one for each life lost, to mark the eighth anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building what was then the worst terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil.

Spring thunderstorms forced mourners into a nearby church after the names of 149 adults and 19 children killed in the truck-bomb blast were read at the memorial site. Several survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center attended the ceremony.

It's been eight years since the blast killed 168 people and gutted the nine-story building. Worse things have happened since. But still visitors come to pay their respects.

"This is something that really just touched whole America, not just the local people," said Terry Rosen, a visitor from Salem, Ore. "It was a real pivotal point in American history."

Rosen last saw the site just after workers cleared the remains of the Murrah building, leaving a barren block surrounded by a chain-link fence of mementos.

"I'm moved a lot more than I expected to be," he said during a visit last week.

Visitors' minds drift to the thousands of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and the U.S.-led war on terrorism, but mostly they think of the 168 who died here April 19, 1995.

"It just brings tears to your eyes," said Kelly Harp, a visitor from Mason City, Ill. "What gets to you most is the little children."

Carolyn McAllister of Little Rock, Ark., said the Sept. 11 attacks gave Oklahoma City's tribute to terrorist victims even more meaning.

"There was so much more loss in New York, but I still think about how so many people were affected here," she said. "It's very inspiring. It makes me appreciate everything I have."

A brief ceremony at the memorial Saturday will honor the victims of the explosion with 168 seconds of silence, one second for every person who died.

The outdoor memorial opened on the fifth anniversary of the bombing in 2000. A museum that tells the story of that day with an audio recording of the blast and mementos of the dead opened the following year.

Museum attendance dropped about 20 percent after the first year, when there were 400,000 visitors, said Kari Watkins, the memorial's executive director. Most museums experience a 30 percent to 50 percent drop after the first year, she said.

"This story will be the story no matter what happens," Watkins said.

About 90 percent of visitors are not from Oklahoma. Museum staff try to attract attendance through programs and new exhibits, including one that weaves stories of the attacks in Oklahoma City, New York and Washington, D.C. Watkins hopes such an exhibit is on display somewhere in New York City by the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Joyce Morris, a Tulsa resident who brought her Iowa relatives to the memorial recently, said its significance will never fade no matter the level of terrorism in America.

"They'll always come," she said.

On the Net:

Memorial: http://www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org