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Oklahoma Remembers Day of Infamy

April 20, 1998

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Chasity Pope walked around the site of the federal building bombing with two living reminders of her slain mother _ 2-year-old Brendon and 5-month-old Brenda.

Both were named after their grandmother, Brenda Daniels, one of 168 people killed in the April 19, 1995, blast.

``My children have never seen her, but my son knows who she is,″ said Ms. Pope, a Dallas resident who was among the hundreds of survivors and victims’ families who came Sunday to mark the third anniversary of the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

A solemn 90-minute ceremony in front of the chain-link fence that surrounds the site included prayers, speeches from dignitaries and 168 seconds of silence for each person who died.

Mementoes, wreaths and flowers were then placed on the grass where rubble stood three years ago. Some lingered to hold hands and pray under sunny skies.

It was the first time the event has fallen on a Sunday and a theme of spirituality was evident.

``I think time helps with healing if you use the time well,″ said Paul Heath, a Veterans Administration psychologist who was in the building at the time of the blast.

President Clinton observed the bombing anniversary by saluting the ``courage and resilience″ of the people of Oklahoma City.

``Today, once again, our thoughts are with the families of the 168 people whose lives were tragically lost,″ Clinton said in a written statement from Santiago, Chile, where he was attending a Western Hemisphere summit.

It has been hard for Ms. Pope to move on, but she said she is trying. She still harbors anger toward Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two men convicted for their roles in the bombing.

``I’m trying to get past the anger because if I don’t, it will eat me up.″

Signs of progress were all around Sunday. On a grassy field across from the bomb site, siblings Rebecca and Brandon Denny, who were in a second-floor day care center when the blast occurred, rolled around with boundless energy. Rebecca has facial scars and Brandon suffered brain damage from the bombing.

Among the dignitaries on hand were cast members from the CBS drama ``Promised Land,″ who are in Oklahoma City to film scenes for several upcoming episodes and to draw attention to efforts to build a permanent memorial.

``The people of Oklahoma demonstrated to the world what the United States stands for,″ said actor Gerald McRaney said. ``People of every color, ethnicity and religion displayed compassion, sacrifice, courage and love not for notoriety or credit but simply because it needed doing.″

Officials with the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation said $11.8 million has been raised for the memorial, which will cost about $24.1 million. Groundbreaking is scheduled for the fall.

Sunday also marked the fifth anniversary of the fire that swept through the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, killing about 80 people.

Prosecutors said the episode became a rallying cry for anti-government militia groups across the United States, including the truck bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

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