Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people. A memorial was erected in Oklahoma's capital city in their honor. In late 2009, 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels traveled to that memorial and museum, reviewing the design and discussing lessons learned from creating a memorial museum. During that trip, Joe and Kari Watkins, the executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, discussed commonalities shared in the missions and goals of her organization and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Both charities have worked together for the past three years. Both are united by hope.
After 9/11, many survivors and family members from Oklahoma City came to New York City to counsel survivors, family members and recovery workers.
Since it's creation, Oklahoma's memorial and museum has greeted scores of visitors, educating them and helping to preserve the memory of everyone killed. This honorable work hasn't gone unnoticed. President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation designating April 19, 2010, as National Day of Service and Remembrance for Victims and Survivors of Terrorism.
Here's an excerpt of the presidents speech, noting the acts of terrorism that took place in Oklahoma City and the East Coast:
Fifteen years ago, terrorists bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing over 160 men, women, and children, and injuring hundreds more. Even before the dust settled, heroes had emerged. First responders, medical professionals, clergy, relief organizations, local leaders, and everyday citizens stepped forward to help victims and their families. Again, when terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, and thousands of Americans –- and scores of foreign nationals -- perished in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Americans made a historic effort to assist all those affected. The dignity of those who were attacked -- and the courage of those who came to their aid -- reaffirmed the strength of our Nation, and the human spirit.
Updates: There's a personal connection between the OKC bombing and the events of 9/11. FDNY Deputy Chief Ray Downey was the city's task force leader for the urban search and rescue team that responded to the Oklahoma City bombing, according to Seth Joseph, an exhibition researcher for the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Downey, who led other national search and rescue missions, died on 9/11 when the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m. Read more about Downey and his extraordinary acts of courage here.
By Michael Frazier, Sr. Communications Manager for the 9/11 Memorial