It was a day to look back, both to 18 years ago and to Monday.
About 1,000 people gathered Friday at the First United Methodist Church for the 18th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
As they gathered to remember and honor the 168 people who died as a result of that attack, they were reminded of the importance of response in years since and that of the future, which was re-emphasized Monday with the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Gary Pierson, chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation, said that April 19, 1995, ended as a day the nation will never forget. But the response began immediately and will not end.
‘Far from complete'
“It was a day of unspeakable terror and pain that has now transcended into nearly two decades of bravery, compassion, vision and routine displays of character of the highest order,” Pierson said to those gathered.
“Our mission is far from complete. There is no more graphic reminder of that than the smoke rising from the finish line in Boston. In a nation and a world where innocent people are targeted by violence, it is crucial that we continue what we started here over 18 years ago — overcoming evil with goodness, replacing fear with courage and helping others to move from despair to hope.”
Gov. Mary Fallin also mentioned the tragedy this week in Boston.
“We grieve for those who have been killed or suffered injuries in the bombing attack in Boston,” she said.
“It's a true tragedy, and our hearts break for our fellow Americans and especially those in Boston and the families who have suffered so much. Oklahoma City knows all too well what it's like to go through a tragedy like that. We offer our thoughts and prayers.”
In addition to the speakers, Friday's ceremony also included 11-year-old Campbell Walker Fields singing the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
After George Skramstad's playing of “The Lord's Prayer” on violin, the names of the 168 who died were read with mentions of “my mother,” “my sister,” “my aunt,” “my brother,” “my son” and “my dad” included.