OKLAHOMA CITY – Monday, Oklahoma City marks the somber 26th anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people.
Merrick Garland, who supervised the investigation of the Oklahoma City Bombing, will be the keynote speaker at a special remembrance ceremony. Now serving as President Biden’s attorney General, Garland oversaw the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh who was later executed for the crime.
The memorial was built on the site where the federal building once stood. The building was razed and replaced by the memorial and a park with 168 chairs in memory of each of the victims of the domestic terror attack.
Because of the pandemic, the 2021 event was invitation only and attendance was limited to family members, survivors and first responders. You can watch the entire ceremony above, or click here.
Full text of Governor Kevin Stitt’s remarks at the Oklahoma City Memorial Remembrance Ceremony
It is a great honor to be here with you today.
Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here with us.
You made a promise 26 years ago: to find the perpetrators of this horrible act, to bring them to justice, and to honor the Constitution while doing it.
On behalf of all 4 million Oklahomans, I thank you for delivering on that promise.
Many of us can still remember where we were on April 19th, 1995. I was in college at Oklahoma State sitting in a friend’s apartment.
But as each year passes, there are more people in our community who don’t have those same memories. We now have a generation of Oklahomans who are college graduates or in our workforce but weren’t born in 1995.
Many others were too young to remember – or have moved here from other states.
No matter how much time passes from that terrible day, it’s our duty as Oklahomans to always remember.
To remember the 168 lives that were lost, the hundreds who were injured and the selflessness and heroism of those who answered the call.
But we must also remember the danger of division.
In the days following the attack, the Rev. Billy Graham issued a challenge to Oklahomans, and to the world.
He said, “The forces of hate and violence must not be allowed to gain their victory – not just in our society, but in our hearts. Nor must we respond to hate with more hate.”
Never in our lifetime has it been easier for us to be divided.
There are groups that refuse to listen to another point of view. They try to cancel anyone who sees the world differently.
It feels like everywhere we turn, someone or something is trying to drive a wedge between us.
Like Rev. Graham challenged us 26 years ago, we must guard our hearts from the forces of hate and violence.
Oklahoma, we have come too far to give in now.
We are coming out of a year where we have never been farther apart. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we agree on much more than we disagree on.
We all want the best education, infrastructure, health care and a strong economy.
We need to remember it’s okay to disagree on the details and still be friends.
This memorial continues to be a powerful way to honor everyone affected by what happened 26 years ago.
But we must also apply the lessons learned on this sacred ground across all corners of our state, and everywhere we go.
As President Clinton said 26 years ago, “Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it.”
We can be silent no more.
We must stand up to those who refuse to tolerate other world views and force their beliefs on others.
While we defend our way of life, remember the freedom we hold so dearly also protects those who disagree with us.
No matter what challenge comes our way, we’re all Oklahomans. And we must never forget that.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:22, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”
26 years ago, Oklahomans stood together as an example to the world.
Now is the time to come together again.
May God continue to comfort the families of those we lost, and may God bless the great state of Oklahoma.