OKLAHOMA CITY – 24 years ago today, Oklahomans vowed they would never forget what took place on the morning of April 19, 1995.
Today, we kept that promise.
People from all over gathered in downtown Oklahoma City at the National Memorial and Museum to not only mark the 168 lives lost in the Oklahoma City bombing, but to also look toward the future and the resilience of our city.
Speaking at the Memorial, Governor Kevin Stitt used the words of the Reverend Billy Graham who spoke to mourners just days after the bombing happened in 1995.
In that speech, Graham imagined what the future would be.
“There's hope for the present because I believe the stage has already been set for the restoration and renewal of the spirit of this city,” Governor Kevin Stitt told those at the ceremony. “You're a city that will 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.”
Twenty-four years later, we're living in what was then the future that Reverend Graham imagined.
“It also is encouraging because we've risen from that and we've become stronger,” First Lady Sarah Stitt said. “It's a heavy thought but it's a hopeful thought.”
At 9:02 a.m., mourners remembered each of the 168 lives lost with 168 seconds of silence, then read off the names of those killed.
The ceremony happens every year, but today marked a first for Governor Stitt.
He had never been to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, nor attended the remembrance ceremony downtown.
“It's a humbling experience and it's an honor for me to remember to carry on this tradition,” Governor Stitt said. “We're one degree separated really. It's touched everybody's lives in Oklahoma, and it's just an honor, a privilege and I'm humbled to be here.”
After the ceremony, those who lost loved ones laid flowers, wreaths and toys on each of the chairs memorializing those killed.
Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt also spoke at the ceremony, telling mourners that one generation lasts roughly 25 years and that more than half of Oklahomans were either not yet born or under the age of 12 when the bombing happened.
He said for that reason, it is especially important to educate younger people about the tragedy that impacted our community back in 1995.