One hundred-sixty eight empty chairs, each with a yellow ribbon placed at the “Field of Empty Chairs,” set the scene for more than 1,600 Oklahoma City bombing survivors, relatives of victims and rescue workers who came together to mark the 10th anniversary of what has been described as the “worst act of domestic terrorism in the U.S.”
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McViegh and Terry Nichols loaded explosives onto a rented Rider truck and parked it in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The explosives were detonated moments later and 168 people were killed, including 19 children.
As is the custom during each Oklahoma City bombing anniversary, 168 seconds of silence was observed, one for each of the victims.
Bill Clinton who was president at the time of the bombing made remarks at the ceremony and received a standing ovation, followed by cheers and whistles.
“It seems almost impossible that it’s been a decade…the memories are still so clear,” Clinton said in the Washington Post. “Yet, by the grace of God, time takes its toll not only on youth and beauty, but also on tragedy.”
After the remarks by President Clinton hundreds of mourners with flowers and memorabilia of their lost loved ones, filed across the street to the memorial park where the building once stood.
Howard University student Rory Scott, although very young at the time, remembers the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing events well.
“The black people in Oklahoma weren’t too concerned with the bombings,” Scott said, a junior business major from Elk City, Oklahoma. “None of the suspects were African American and there were only a handful of blacks who were victims, maybe about five or six out of about 160 others,” Scott said.
According to Scott, there were very few portrayals of blacks in the media during and after the tragic event.
“I feel sorry for the families of those who lost their loved ones,” Scott said. “But I think whites were hit a bit harder from the bombings more so than African Americans were.”
Timothy McViegh who drove the truck and detonated the bomb, was executed for the crime in 2001. Terry Nichols, his accomplice, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.