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Bombing victims communicate through Web site

April 27, 1997

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ E-mail messages from around the nation give Janet Walker and other bombing victims’ relatives as well as survivors the strength to endure Timothy McVeigh’s trial.

``Every morning before attending the bombing trial I try to read your messages in our guest book,″ Mrs. Walker, whose husband, David, died in the federal building bombing, wrote to well-wishers on the Internet Web page of Families and Survivors United.

``Your precious words are so appreciated. I will never forget the love that flows throughout the world on account of this tragedy,″ she wrote.

``Never before have I been the recipient of such love and understanding,″ wrote Caye Allen, whose husband, Ted, was killed in the April 19, 1995, explosion.

Most of the e-mail offers sympathy, condolences and prayers.

``I remember the day Americans were forever changed,″ wrote Nancy Gould Ratliff of Omaha, Neb. ``My mother and father often told us stories about where they were when the first man walked on the moon, when JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King were shot. At nightfall on April 19, 1995, my children looked at me and asked `Why?′ What can we tell our children when their faith in humankind has been shaken to the core?″

Nicolle Kahl was a high school junior in Isabel, S.D., on the day of the explosion.

``I learned of the tragedy on the way to decorate for my junior prom. I can remember where I was, what I was eating and it is imprinted in my mind,″ she wrote.

Ms. Kahl said in an interview that it was particularly frustrating to watch and ``not be able to do anything but pray.′

Wendi Whitaker of Shelbourne, Vt., said she was drawn to the families’ Web site because the bombing seared the American psyche, much like the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the space shuttle Challenger explosion.

``I wasn’t born when Kennedy was shot but I think the bombing rates right up there,″ Mrs. Whitaker said. ``Of all things, at least for my generation, it’s been the worst. It was heart-wrenching, so many lives affected by a certain person.″

The Families and Survivors United page offers a list of the 168 victims and news about the trial. There is information on victims’ advocacy groups, and travel information for families going to attend McVeigh’s trial in Denver.

A few survivors have used the page to describe the bombing.

``I glimpsed a girl, face full of terror and arms straight up, 10 feet from me,″ wrote Clark Peterson, who was in his fourth-floor Army recruiting office when the bomb went off. ``Both of us were falling, although I did not realize it until half an hour later.

``The sight of her was so fleeting and faint that I could not identify her. She yelled, `Ah!′ as if there was not enough time for her to inhale. My memories are so vivid. It’s hard to grasp that only a few seconds had passed.″

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Editors: The Web address is http://www.familiessurvivorsunite.com.

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