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18 years later, Oklahoma City memorial's mission holds

Friday marks 18th anniversary of the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing.
by Bryan Painter Published: April 14, 2013

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Hale sat alone in the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

Hale was staring, not just glancing out the window.

The soldier, who is stationed at Fort Sill, focused beyond the Rescuers' Orchard and the Reflecting Pool to the Field of Empty Chairs in the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial.

Then he paused, tilted and lowered his head slightly and firmly ran his right hand over his face. When finished his eyes remained closed.

On Friday, the Remembrance Ceremony will be held to mark the 18th anniversary of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Similar to previous years, 168 seconds of silence will be observed at 9:02 a.m. for those lost as a result of the bombing.

But people come to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum daily to remember.

Still important

Hale came two weeks in a row to the bombing memorial. He brought with him different groups of soldiers from Fort Sill.

It's not just the history that brings them to this site in downtown Oklahoma City. They make the trip to remember those lost and injured.

They also come to be reminded of the many reasons why what happened 18 years ago is still important today, Hale said.

“It's also to let them know that terrorism doesn't just happen in the Middle East,” he said. “I brought a smaller group last week, a young group of soldiers. It's to get these soldiers to understand that there's something bigger than themselves.

“To serve in our Army, our armed forces in general, a person has to have a sense of something bigger than themselves, because we defend a way of life for our country as a whole.”

Offering many lessons

In the museum, behind Hale's most recent group, were students from Bacone College in Muskogee.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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I brought a smaller group last week, a young group of soldiers. It's to get these soldiers to understand that there's something bigger than themselves.”

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Hale,

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