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Former first lady looks back on the April 19, 1995, bombing of Oklahoma City's federal building

Laura Bush shares how the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum remembers the past and educates in the present and for the future.
by Bryan Painter Published: April 19, 2011
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“What I think the memorial can remind people of — and the museum and the staff there does, I think — is how we should condemn those acts of terrorism and everyone worldwide should be condemning it.”

The former president, his wife and their daughters will receive the 2011 Reflections of Hope Award. The daughters, Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, are scheduled to receive the award on behalf of their family during a luncheon Wednesday at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

The Reflections of Hope Award honors a living person or active organization whose conduct exemplifies in an extraordinary fashion two core beliefs of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation: That hope can survive and blossom despite the tragedy and chaos of political violence and that, even in environments marred by such violence, peaceful approaches provide the best answers to human problems.

“The award is trying to focus on the people who are trying to make a difference,” Watkins said. “Their family has focused on education, human rights and democracy from what they did in their time at the White House to what they're doing today.”

Laura Bush, like those who organized the national memorial in Oklahoma City, says it is not only a way to remember the past but a way to educate in the present and future to guard against terrorism.

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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IF YOU GO

Bombing anniversary

8:45 a.m. today

• Prelude: Oklahoma City police Sgt. Justin Echols

• Bagpiper procession: Kevin M. Donnelly, pipe sergeant, DEA Black and Gold Pipes and Drums

• Welcome: John Richels, chairman, Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation

• Mission statement: Nicholas Ryan Smith, YMCA survivor and memorial volunteer

9:02 a.m.

• 168 seconds of silence

9:05 a.m.

• Invocation: the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral

• Posting of colors: Oklahoma City Fire and Police Departments Joint Color Guard

• National anthem: Echols

9:15 a.m.

• What the (Oklahoma City National) Memorial & Museum means to me as a ... family member — Donna Weaver, wife of Michael Weaver; a survivor — Richard Williams, General Services Administration; a rescue worker — Oklahoma City police Maj. Ed Hill

• What the memorial and museum means to our state and nation: Gov. Mary Fallin

• “God Bless America”: Echols

9:30 a.m.

• Reading of 168 names: Visitors are to remain seated until all names have been read.

10 a.m.

• Cox Communications Community Day: On this day, entry into the memorial and museum is free. After the ceremony, the memorial and museum will open at 10 a.m. Last entry into the museum is at 6 p.m.

11 a.m.

• National 9/11 Flag Historic Stitching Ceremony: In a historic stitching ceremony, New York City firefighters and local service heroes will repair an American flag destroyed in the aftermath of 9/11.

4 p.m.

• Planting of Survivor Tree Seedling at Taft Middle School, 2901 NW 23: 75 Taft Middle School students who are scheduled to participate in the Memorial Marathon this May will plant a “Wish Tree” as part of a nationwide initiative.

Noon Wednesday

•  The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum will honor former President George W. Bush, first lady Laura Bush and family with the 2011 Reflections of Hope Award during a luncheon at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63. Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Hager, the former president's daughters, are scheduled to receive the award on behalf of their family. A ticket is required.



Other reflections

• Frank Keating, governor at the time of the bombing: “Virtually each time I meet an out-of-state visitor to the memorial-museum, their response is the same. The experience was spiritual, vivid, memorable, humbling, patriotic, or life altering. Few are not profoundly affected.”

• Jon R. Wallace, The Salvation Army Disaster Social Services director who traveled to Oklahoma City in the hours after the April 19, 1995, bombing: “The memorial- museum is an instrument of peace that effectively communicates the resilience of a community, the compassion of a state, and the goodness of a people to respond, recover, and rebuild from a senseless act of intolerance.”

• Charlie Hanger, who as an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper stopped a Mercury sedan with no license plate on Interstate 35 on April 19, 1995. He arrested the driver, Timothy McVeigh, on a firearms offense: “I feel like the museum has not only memorialized the events of April 19, 1995, it has shown the victims and the families of those who were killed that tragic day, that we will never forget.”

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