It’s been 20 years since we experienced the worst act of American home-grown terrorism at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This solemn day stands as a reminder of the 168 souls that were lost. On a day where anger lashed out, Oklahomans responded with compassion.
Every year since April 19, 1995, we stand together and read aloud the names of those who lost their lives. We remember the first responders who acted selflessly in a time of need. We remember the families impacted by this tragic event, and we remember the survivors who continue to re-count and re-live that fateful day. We remember this day — a day that Oklahomans did not allow fear to overcome their love for our fellow man.
In response to the 20th anniversary, Oklahomans re-commit to that same spirit of generosity — the “Oklahoma Standard.” This year, we place a special emphasis on participating in acts of service, to help us never again allow anger to blind our eyes to one another. To honor those who died, we encourage Oklahomans to reach out to people to serve them, even those with whom they may disagree. We will engage in conversations and participate in acts of service to show that our bond of community and patriotism will not be shaken by terror. In the end, we may have differences, but we will show the nation that love overcomes hate, and civil discourse can be achieved even when there is disagreement. That is the “Oklahoma Standard.”
The Senate passed a resolution (S.Res. 139) this week, authored by Senator Jim Inhofe and I, to commemorate the anniversary. In addition to remembering the victims and their families and honoring the first responders, the resolution applauds the people of Oklahoma City for making tremendous progress over the past two decades. Instead of deteriorating after this tragedy, our city has rebounded and experienced great opportunity and growth. This story of perseverance stands as a beacon to the rest of the nation, and the world, attesting to the strength of goodness in overcoming evil wherever it arises in our midst.
There is an entire generation that has grown up since 1995. It is up to us to teach them how love and kindness can still shine through even the most tragic event. I ask Americans to join Oklahoma in remembering that tragic day, but also to show this generation and the nation how we respond to hatred and violence.
Twenty years ago, our state experienced firsthand Psalm 34:18, which says, ‘the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ May God bless our state, and may we never lose our resilient Oklahoma and American spirit.