Families Remember Victims of Okla. City Bombing

Eleven years after the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, family members tearfully read the names of relatives killed in the most deadly act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history and Gov. Brad Henry urged people to always remember what happened here.

"The legacy of April 19, 1995, is about the people, the 168 wonderful Oklahomans who lost their lives here for no reason other than going about their normal business day," Henry said Wednesday. "The children, the men, the women, the husbands, the wives, mothers and fathers and grandparents, we must never forget what they gave."

In honor of those who died, participants of the ceremony on the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building observed 168 moments of silence at 9:02 a.m., the time when the blast occurred 11 years ago.

Henry said the bombing showed that good things can come from horrific events. He cited the work of rescue workers who toiled around the clock to save lives and the outpouring of help that came to the city from people around the world.

"The legacy of April 19, 1995, is goodness overcoming evil," he said. "That's what we must remember."

The mission statement for the memorial was read by Donquay Hammons, Ryan Hammons, Lauren Leach, Hayden Matli and Jordan Matli, now teenagers, who were in the federal building's daycare center when the bomb went off:

"We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave her know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."

Jim Denney was at the ceremony with his children, Rebecca and Brandon, who were injured in the daycare center. He wanted to thank all of those who helped after the bombing.

"I think it's important that people know that we care a lot about them just as 11 years ago they cared a lot about us," he said.

Dozens of relatives of those killed decorated chairs at the memorial that symbolize victims of the bombing.

Bill Cleveland of Stigler carefully wrapped a bouquet of flowers on a chair memorializing his daughter, Pamela Cleveland Argo, who died in the building's Social Security office.

"It's very important we never forget," he said. "It's part of the grieving process."

Survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City placed a wreath on the former site of the federal building and read a letter from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in praise of a program in which survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing help support those affected by 9-11.

"We gain more strength from being here," said Mike Dempsey, who was injured by falling debris at the World Trade Center.

Wednesday's observance was low key. The brief program was planned by a group of survivors and relatives of those killed and reflects the physical and emotional healing they have experienced, said Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.

"They're moving forward with their lives," Watkins said. "And they want to show the world, there is some hope.

"Life does go on, it's just maybe different."

The nine-story building was destroyed when a cargo truck packed with two tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil was detonated near its entrance.

Timothy McVeigh was apprehended less than two hours after the bombing. He was convicted of federal murder charges and executed on June 11, 2001. Terry Nichols, who met McVeigh in the Army, was convicted on federal and state bombing charges and is serving multiple life prison sentences.

Another Army buddy, Michael Fortier, pleaded guilty to not telling authorities in advance about the bomb plot and agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols. Fortier was released from a federal prison in January after serving about 85 percent of a 12-year sentence.

Prosecutors said the bombing was a twisted attempt to avenge the deaths of about 80 people in the government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier.