OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – April 19, 2022 marks 27 years since 168 lives were lost and countless others were changed forever.
In remembering the tragedy of April 19, 1995, Oklahomans also remember the strength in the moments that followed and the unbreakable spirit that lives on today.
“27 years ago, within minutes, 168 lives were lost,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt.
“For many, today is a day when memories flood back,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “When pain can feel as fresh as it did April 19,1995.”
In the Field of Empty Chairs, those who were lost live on in the hearts of their loved ones.
“He was an advocate for children,” said Evangelina R. Gonzales, niece of Antonio ‘Tony’ C. Reyes. “He loved his family. He left us with a lot of beautiful memories. He’s still missed, very missed.”
Some never got the chance to really know their own parents.
“I was 10-days-old when he passed away,” said Ivan Martinez, son of Rev. Gilbert X. Martinez. “It’s kind of hard for me to grasp words for someone that is my father but I didn’t really get to meet him, unfortunately. I’ve been told I’m very passionate, and I could see some similar characteristics in me that were through him. But he was a great man, helped a lot of people. On the day of the bombing, I know he was actually helping a friend try to get his Social Security. So that’s why he was at the federal Murrah Building.”
On this day, we also remember those kind hearts and the spirit of our state in the days, weeks, months and years that followed.
“Our community, our state, our nation, will never be the same but Oklahomans stay resilient,” said Rep. Stephanie Bice (R – Oklahoma).
The ambassador of France served as the keynote speaker, connecting the hearts of the French people to Oklahomans, both who know the pain caused by terrorism.
“Paris and Oklahoma City have been hit very hard in our hearts,” said Philippe Etienne, Ambassador of France to the United States. “The French people are standing next to you, shoulder to shoulder.”
The remembrance ceremony and memorial standing in tribute and as a reminder.
“The very act of sitting in this sanctuary together today is a rejection of the division hoped for by the perpetrators of this bombing,” Holt said.
It also stands as a way to ensure future generations learn of the lessons and legacies left behind today.
“It’s important for me for them to see this, to go to the museum, to remember and keep remembering,” Martinez said. “It’s important to keep remembering.”
The Ambassador of France says the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is serving as an excellent example as they plan for a museum following the terrorist attacks in his country.