Oklahoma City, Okla. (April 19, 2019)
It is a humbling moment to be here with you for this important ceremony.
Like you, I remember where I was on this day in 1995. I was a college student at Oklahoma State University, and I was sitting in a friend’s apartment having a coffee.
The TV was on in the background when the breaking news caught our attention. Terror had struck the state that we love and call home. I remember the days following when we began to learn the names of victims and we began to grieve with those we knew who had lost a father, a mother or a friend.
For 21 days, our brave first responders worked around the clock to retrieve the victims, to search for survivors, to support the wounded and to comfort those mourning. During this time, our state was visited by leaders from across the nation to offer their support and their words of comfort.
I vividly remember President Bill Clinton and Reverand Billy Graham visiting Oklahoma City for a prayer service, and I’d like to take a moment to read comments Rev. Graham delivered on April 23, 1995.
He said, “There's hope for the present because I believe the stage is already been set for the restoration and renewal of the spirit of this city. You're a city that will always survive, and you'll never give up. Today, it's my prayer that all Americans will rededicate ourselves to a new spirit of brotherhood and compassion, working together to solve the problems and barriers that would tear us apart.”
Oklahomans, you held tight to the “hope” Rev. Graham spoke about in 1995. You were determined and you never gave up on it. The sacred ground we stand on today is a testament. Because of your steadfast commitment to hope, this city – and our state – has experienced restoration and renewal. Over the past two decades, you have demonstrated to the nation and to the world the power of compassion and of unity.
We come here today to remember the 168 lives lost, the hundreds injured and the many more who served on the front lines. We also come here today to teach the next generation the impact of violence and the healing that comes when we walk in Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor.
As Governor Keating once said, Americans will find love and courage in Oklahoma. This continues to ring true today. May we embrace it. And in reflection, may we be inspired to extend life, kindness and hope to others through the continued display of the Oklahoma Standard that emerged from the rubble 24 years ago.