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From Oklahoma Highway to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, A Moment to Mourn

April 26, 1995

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ At 9:02 a.m. Wednesday, rescue worker John Mayer stood facing the ravaged Alfred E. Murrah Federal Building, clutching his yellow hardhat, tears streaming down his face.

On Interstate 44, cars slowly pulled off the road. The dispatcher for the Yellow Cab company told his drivers, ``Stay off the radio, please.″

And in New York, the bells of St. Patrick’s Cathedral pealed.

In ways large and small, Oklahomans and those who mourn with them marked a moment of silence exactly one week after the devastating bombing.

In Washington, President Clinton urged all federal workers to join him and Mrs. Clinton in observing the moment of silence. The state legislatures in Nebraska, Iowa and Maine paused.

But it was in Oklahoma where the pain was greatest, and it was evident on faces everywhere _ most poignantly, perhaps, at the gutted federal building, where the elevator carrying rescuers stopped moving, the cranes stopped droning, and the only sound to be heard was the pealing of bells playing ``Amazing Grace.″

Rescuers paused and stared solemly at the building, some still wearing their respirators. One, standing alongside his golden retriever, made the sign of the cross.

A city police officer removed his sunglasses to wipe away a tear, then quickly put them back on. Police Chief Sam Gonzales weaved his way through the debris and cranes to place a small pot of flowers at the base of the building.

At the University of Oklahoma in Norman, 30 miles south of Oklahoma City, the only sound was the snap of a color guard’s flags in a stiff prairie wind.

The uniforms reminded Catherine Kauble of a beloved cousin, retired from the military, who was missing in the rubble, and she cried quietly. She said it was the first memorial event she had attended.

Two trees were planted at the university as memorials to the dead, including geography student Trudy Rigney.

The moment of silence was timed to mark the exact moment of the bombing, established by seismologists as 9:02 a.m., two minutes earlier than police had originally announced.

Jesse Jackson, visiting the city, observed the moment with 40 other ministers at St. John Baptist Church. ``One of the messages coming out of this is we must stop the hate, stop the hurt and stop the hostility,″ he said.

But malice was not absent from the day’s proceedings. Hundreds of Federal Aviation Administration employees had to spend the moment of silence outside their buildings after a caller warned that three bombs would go off _ at exactly 9:02.

After a search, the employees returned to work.

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