Oklahoma City bombing still ‘heavy in our hearts’ on 29th anniversary, federal official says

FILE – This April 19, 1995 file photo shows the north side of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City after it was destroyed by a domestic terrorist bomb, killing 168 people. (AP photo/file)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Federal officials are determined to never have another terrorist attack like the Oklahoma City bombing happen again, Deputy Homeland Security Adviser Caitlin Durkovich told survivors and loved ones of the 168 people killed in Friday’s 19 bombing April 1995.

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“What happened here in Oklahoma still weighs heavy on our hearts; … what took place here 29 years ago remains the deadliest act of homegrown terrorism in American history,” Durkovich said before a field of 168 bronze chairs, each engraved with the name of a bombing victim, at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.

“Our collective decision never to let this happen is how we bear witness to the memory and legacy of those who died and those who survived the bombing,” Durkovich told the crowd of more than a hundred people as a woman stood in the crowd wiped the tears. of her face.

The ceremony, which lasted almost an hour and a half, began with 168 seconds of silence for each of the dead and ended with the reading of the names of each of the victims.

Durkovich was joined by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt for the ceremony on a partly sunny, cool and windy morning marking the 29th anniversary of the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building downtown.

“This is a place where Americans killed Americans,” and the lessons learned after the bombing should be used to address today’s “political vitriol,” Holt said.

“We don’t want more places and more commemoration days. This should be enough, Holt said.

The bombers’ motives included hatred, intolerance, ignorance, bigotry, conspiracy theories, misinformation and “extreme political views,” Holt said.

Hatred of the federal government motivated former Army soldier Timothy McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols to commit the attack.

McVeigh’s hatred was specifically fueled by the government’s attack on the Branch Davidian religious sect near Waco, Texas, which killed 76 people, and a standoff in the mountains of Ruby Ridge, Idaho, that left a 14-year-old boy, his mother and a federal agent dead. He chose April 19 because it was the second anniversary of the fiery end of the Waco siege.

McVeigh was convicted in 2001, sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection. Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.

Stitt ordered U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff on state properties until 5 p.m. Friday in memory of those killed and injured in the bombing.

“While the world watched, Oklahomans united in a community-wide display of noble humanity,” Stitt said in a statement announcing the order.

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