OKLAHOMA CITY – As people in Oklahoma prepared to remember those who died in Oklahoma City Bombing twenty years ago (April 19, 1995) the state Senate paused Thursday (April 16) to honor and remember state workers who were injured or who died in the blast, and the many others who assisted in the rescue, search and recovery efforts and while seeking justice for the victims.
In other legislative action, the state House honored the 168 victims that were lost at the hands of domestic terrorists.
Senate Resolution 27, by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, was an effort to recognize the effect the
Murrah bombing had on state employees, and how they assisted victims, families, the city and the state as Oklahoma moved forward from the deadliest domestic terrorism attack in this nation’s history.
Even though it was the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that was targeted in the Oklahoma City bombing, two nearby buildings heavily damaged in the blast were the Oklahoma Water Resources Board building and the Journal Record Building, which housed several state agency offices. Two employees in the Water Resources Board building were killed in the bombing, and a third state employee who was visiting the Social Security office in the Murrah Building died. More than 100 other state workers were injured that morning.
Representatives of the various state agencies located near the Murrah Building and other state officials and employees were on the floor and in the Senate gallery for the passage of the resolution.
“It is often perhaps overlooked because of the obvious impact that the federal government felt and the obvious great response that the city government gave. But the state government, as you heard in the resolution, was intimately affected and involved in the aftermath of April 19th,” said Holt, addressing fellow members and state employees in the chamber. “To those standing here and those in the gallery, we are going to applaud. We know that is insufficient, but just know that it symbolizes our deep grief and gratitude.”
Among officials present for Thursday’s ceremony was Susan Winchester, a former State Representative from Chickasha, who currently serves as the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Her sister, Dr. Peggy Clark, was among those killed in the bombing.
Winchester expressed appreciation for the Senate’s recognition of the role of state employees and others the day of the bombing and in its aftermath.
“At 9:02 a.m., April 19, 1995, someone tried to bring Oklahoma to her knees. At 9:03 that morning, we showed them that that doesn’t happen in Oklahoma – that we are a strong people, we are a generous people. We run toward tragedy, not away, and we make things better,” Winchester said.
Joining Holt on the Senate floor were Gov. Mary Fallin, who was Lt. Governor in 1995; Justice Steven Taylor, member of the Board of Trustees of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and the presiding judge over the state trial; Sheriff Charlie Hanger, the former state trooper caught the primary suspect; Gary Sherrer, who was Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board; Ed Eckenstein, an employee of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board; Melanie Hall, member of the Board of Trustees of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and who was Deputy Administrator of the Oklahoma Department of Securities in the Journal Record building; Melissa Houston, member of the Board of Trustees of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and was an employee of the Truth in Sentencing Policy Advisory Commission in the Journal Record building; and Kari Watkins, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
On the other side of the Capitol’s fourth floor, House Resolution 1014 was introduced and passed in remembrance of the victims, their families and the heroism of emergency responders and citizens who ran to aid those who were hurt and trapped in the destruction.
“We must never forget the lives that were lost, those who survived and those whose lives were changed forever,” said House Speaker Pro Tem Lee Denney, R-Cushing. “In the aftermath, our values persevered and became what is known as the Oklahoma Standard, an outpouring of compassion and strength that ensured aid and comfort would be quickly brought to those who were harmed and vulnerable and that justice would prevail.”
During the reading of H.R. 1014, the House stood in silence for 168 seconds, one second for every person who died.
Former House Speaker Pro Tem Susan Winchester was also in attendance. Winchester lost her sister, Dr. Margaret “Peggy” Clark, in the bombing. She was an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and had stopped at the Murrah Federal Building to pick up some things from her office when the bomb went off.
“That was 168 normal people going to work that day,” said Winchester. “They were just like you and me, people going to work. They had families. They had husbands. They had wives.
“We immediately jumped up, took charge and showed the world what we’re like in Oklahoma. That we are a strong people who will persevere. We have in the past, and we will do so in future.”