Remembrance and hope are among the messages of the new Oklahoma City National Memorial. The national memorial is being built to honor the victims killed in Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing on April 19, 1995. In 168 days, on the fifth anniversary of the bombing, the memorial will be opened. As construction moves forward, victims, survivors and organizers kicked off the "168 Days Campaign" Thursday in Oklahoma City. "The bombing which was intended to separate us as a community and drive a wedge in our unity," said Oklahoma City mayor Kirk Humphreys. "In fact, it has united us."
For the next 168 days, one victim of the bombing will be honored every day. Thursday, John Youngblood was so honored. Rescue workers found him outside the building after the horrific blast. Youngblood died 23 days after the explosion. His wife, Kathy, says the memorial is for all Americans. â€œItâ€™s not just for the victims, the survivors or the rescue workers, it's for the entire nation."
When the memorial opens, an empty chair will represent Youngblood. It will stand empty along with 167 other empty chairs. A museum and anti-terrorist institute are also a part of the project. Bombing survivor Dennis Purifoy lost 16 co-workers that fateful day and says the memorial will teach Americans how we overcame terrorism in the U-S. â€œI think it will be a fitting memorial,â€ said Purifoy. â€œIt will be helpful to me that the memorial will always be there."
The campaign is also a fundraiser. Organizers have raised $20.5 million so far for the project. They need about $9 million more to complete it and are asking all Americans to help.
Aren Almon-Kok's daughter, Bailey, will be honored on day 168. Almon-Kok says the nation deserves to share in remembrance. â€œWe all have gravesites where we buried our loved ones,â€ she said. â€œBut we don't want to share those things, we want to share the memorial.â€