Campaign to make public aware of bombing memorial begins

Thursday, November 4th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Like anyone else who happens by the site of the federal building bombing lately, Polly Nichols has seen a lot of changes. But in the 168 days leading up to the fifth anniversary of April 19, 1995, Ms. Nichols, who lost a cousin and herself was injured in the blast, sees a transition that is more than physical.

"I think about the 168 days ... and to me, when I pass that site, I think about the smaller patch of grass, surrounded by the fence to keep everybody out," said Ms. Nichols, co-chair of the fund-raising campaign.

"It was sacred ground, and we looked on it as our site because we had family who had died there. But when the construction started, it became more of a national, public site as it opened up. "... It no longer belongs to us, exclusively."

With the 168 Days Campaign, organizers hope to remind the nation about the event and about the memorial meant to honor those who died and were injured. The $29.1 million project is slated for dedication April 19, 2000, but organizers still need $8.6 million to cover construction and operation of the outdoor memorial, a museum and an anti-terrorism institute. The memorial will be comprised of 168 distinctive chairs that will symbolize each of the dead. "The memorial is taking shape, and plans are well under way for the museum. The anti- terrorism institute is preparing for its third symposium, so the public at-large now has a good idea of what the memorial is going to be and what it hopes to accomplish," Ms. Nichols said.

Television and radio stations nationwide have been asked to run 60- and 30- second remembrances of the bombing. Newspapers are being asked to print advertisements and stories. Each day of the campaign will remember one of the 168 people who died, starting with a Federal Highway Administration employee.

In addition, billboard advertisements, T-shirts and bumper stickers also are included in the 168 Days Campaign. "I think people want to be involved and make a connection," Ms. Nichols said. "Hardly a day goes by without me meeting a new person who wants to give them the opportunity to become involved."