Lankford Pauses Senate for 168 Seconds to Remember the Victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor in remembrance of the victims and their families affected by the tragic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The tragedy led to the nation highlighting the Oklahoma Standard of coming together to do whatever is needed to help our neighbors. Lankford issued a statement of remembrance and encouragement to continue living the Oklahoma Standard in order to honor the legacy of the lives lost.
We remember. At 9:02 a.m., on April 19, 1995, 168 people were tragically murdered in the worst act of homegrown domestic violence and terrorism in our nation’s history.
That was in Oklahoma City. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City destroyed nine floors where they collapsed in on each other. The physical impact of the building and of the bombing itself was felt 55 miles away, and the force of the blast damaged 324 surrounding buildings.
The emotional impact was felt around the world, as literally the world stopped and stared at their televisions 28 years ago today. And the nation felt the pain of those who were killed and of the survivors and the family members who remain. The victims included 19 children many who attended the day care in the building called America’s Kids.
A total of 219 children lost a parent that day and 30 children were orphaned that day. It is estimated that 360,000 Oklahomans knew someone personally who worked in the Murrah building. The 16-day rescue and recovery effort took its toll on those who held onto hope that their loved one was still alive.
The events of April 19, 1995, changed my state, changed our country forever. There are incredible stories about survivors of the bombing that helped their coworkers escape and exit the building to safety. We introduced what we now know as the Oklahoma Standard—the way Oklahomans immediately stepped forward to offer help, show compassion to their neighbors in pain, donate blood, donate even their shoes that day to rescue workers and other individuals that needed help.
Out of the terrible tragedy was demonstrated tremendous love.
By 3:30 p.m. On April 19, 1995, Family Assistance Center called the Compassion Center was set up, First Christian Church in downtown Oklahoma City. The center was supported by the American Red Cross, hundreds of local charities, chaplain, and medical professionals. Rescue workers poured in for fellow Oklahomans; $14 million was donated to the Oklahoma City Disaster Relief Fund.
The Oklahoma Legislature created the Murrah Fund that pulled public and private dollars assist victims with grief counseling, burials.
There is a lot to be said about the aftermath of the Alfred P. Murrah bombing. One notable piece is the remarkable work of law enforcement that day. See, law enforcement was called in from all over to be able to assist. But one state trooper that was responding to it was actually turned around and said, ‘Stay in your area. We do need to keep coverage across the state.’ So, this state trooper, Charlie Hanger, stayed in his area way north of Oklahoma City on I-35. On that day in his normal duties that he was doing, he saw a yellow Mercury that had no license tag on it, and he pulled them over. Just doing his job. The person that he pulled over was the person who had actually committed the murders.
Just a great cop doing his job.
The FBI came in from all over the country to come help. US attorneys came to be able to help. Employees helped the FBI put together a drawing of the person when they found out the van was rented or the truck that was actually used for the bombing was rented. They helped develop this as the FBI worked, and they figured out that the person that Charlie Hanger had pulled over was actually the person that they were looking for at the same time and were able to speedily make an arrest.
My city and my state is very grateful to the FBI and to the work that they did that day, local law enforcement, US attorneys, first responders, everyday Oklahomans that literally ran towards that moment. Some staying literally for weeks and months going through the debris.
You can’t imagine the pain and the difficulty of digging through rubble and identifying people. What those first responders did and what those individuals that stayed on the pile did will never be forgotten by our state.
One resounding message from the survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing is life can be forever altered in a single moment.
Oklahomans who lost their lives that day simply woke up, went to work, dropped off their child at America’s Kids Daycare thinking they would all come home that night. There’s a lot that we can learn from those events, but it reminds us that time with our family and loved ones is precious and should never be taken for granted.
But we should also remember that the Oklahoma City bombing was driven by anti-American hatred. Single individuals with misguided government beliefs and hatred for people in government, literally drove a truck bomb in front of a building full of people serving their nation that day in a federal building and chose to kill them just because of their hatred for government. We can never allow our nation to rise up with that kind of anger and hatred against fellow Americans. We are a nation that has disagreements, and we solve those by talking to each other as fellow Americans.
The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial Museum sits next to the memorial itself. It continues to tell the story every single day as they are today of what is means to be able to have one person talking to another person to solve our problems and to work out our differences.
On the 28th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, we still feel the sharp pain and loss in Oklahoma. While some of the nation look back at it and think, that was a long time ago, we remember. We thank the first responders and the law enforcement officers for their invaluable service. We remember the lives of the victims lost, and we continue to pray for their families and for their survivors that are still gathering today together just to check on each other as families. And most importantly, we will continue to tell the story of what happens when rage and hatred for fellow Americans spills over into the destruction of life. We remember. And I would ask this body to do what we’re doing in Oklahoma City today.
We’re pausing for 168 seconds to remember the 168 victims that we lost that day. So, with this body pause with me for 168 seconds
Today we honor those who were killed, those who survived, and those who were changed forever.