Survivors Mark 12th Anniversary Of Oklahoma City Bombing

Thursday, April 19th 2007, 6:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, speaking Thursday at ceremonies on the 12th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, said the response to that deadly attack serves as an example to others recovering from violence. The people of Oklahoma City "became a model of compassion and strength, both, a model that helped us several years later get through Sept. 11 and a model that will help the people of Virginia Tech get through the terrible agonies that they are going through right now," Giuliani said.

Giuliani's comments came after 168 seconds of silence were observed, one for each person killed in the explosion at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, and before the names of the victims were read by family members.

Mourners gather each April 19 at the former site of the that building, now the Oklahoma City National Memorial, to observe the anniversary of the bombing, which injured hundreds.

Attention was also being focused in this year's ceremony on killings of 32 people at Virginia Tech by a student who then killed himself.

To see a brief video from Thursday's memorial service, click here.

Giuliani said much can be learned from the way rescue workers controlled their fears at the damaged federal building while they navigated danger.

"That's a lesson that we all have to take to heart as we face the reality of having to live with the aftermath of these attacks whether it is the one here or Sept. 11 or what just happened at Virginia Tech," he said.

"We mourn and hurt and will never forget but we don't live under fear."

He also said it was important to never forget those who died.

"We owe to those we lost at Virginia Tech or to those that we lost here and on Sept. 11 that we will do everything we can to prevent future attacks.

"And with regard to Virginia Tech, as the facts are established, we must determine how do we make our schools safer? How do we do a better job of detecting the wrong signs and the warning signs earlier as we must do a better job of deterring future Oklahoma Cities and future Sept. 11s."

Dina Abulon, whose stepfather Peter Avillanoza died in the bombing, told those at the ceremonies that her family went through several agonizing days watching television as rescuers dug through the rubble of the federal building searching for victims and survivors.

Abulon said she remembered Oklahoma City not for the bombing, but for the "countless acts of kindness" that members of the community showed her family as they waited to learn the fate of her stepfather.

"Oklahoma City is worthy of being deemed the heartland," said Abulon, her voice trembling with emotion. "The community embraced our family. Every letter reminded me that I wasn't alone."

Doris Jones, whose pregnant daughter, Carrie Ann Lenz, was killed in the bombing said after the ceremonies it was mind-boggling that it has been 12 years since she last saw her daughter.

"It just seems like forever," Jones said.

She said the trauma she experienced after her daughter's death has diminished over time.

"The days are easier to get through," she said. "The hours are not all filled with sadness. I don't cry all day now."

Dan McKinney, whose wife, Linda, was killed, said it has taken 12 years for him to learn to live without her.

"You think you are getting better and better until this day hits," McKinney said. "It just brings it all back. It's like it was yesterday."

He said his wife's death "literally almost killed me."

In the federal building attack, a cargo truck packed with two tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil was detonated in front of the nine-story federal building on April 19, 1995.

Timothy McVeigh was apprehended less than two hours later. He was convicted of federal murder charges and was executed June 11, 2001. Terry Nichols, who met McVeigh in the Army, was convicted of federal and state bombing charges and is serving life prison sentences.

Another Army buddy, Michael Fortier, pleaded guilty to not telling authorities in advance about the bomb plot and agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols. Fortier was released from a federal prison in January 2006 after serving most of a 12-year sentence.

Prosecutors said the bombing was a twisted attempt to avenge the deaths of about 80 people in the government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier.

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For information about the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, click here.