WASHINGTON (BP)–“Oklahoma City will always be one of those places in our national memory where the worst and the best both came to pass,” said President George W. Bush Feb. 19 at the dedication of the $7 million museum honoring the victims of the worst terrorist bombing in U.S. history.
“Memorials do not take away the pain,” Bush said, CNSNews.com reported Feb. 19. “They cannot fill the emptiness, but they can make a place in time to tell the value of what was lost. The debris is gone, and the building is no more. Now this is a place of peace and remembrance and life.”
The National Memorial Interactive Learning Museum pays tribute to the 168 people who lost their lives in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
A mother who lost her daughter in the bombing will be working at the museum, Bush recounted. “She said, ‘When I come down here to the memorial, I’ve always felt a good feeling. This is where she was happy, and this is where she was last.'”
Five “stations” are laid out chronologically at the museum, beginning with the everyday arrival of people before the blast. At the “Hearing” exhibit, visitors can listen to an actual audio tape of the explosion and the fallout.
“The truth of Oklahoma City is the courage and comfort you found in one another,” Bush said. “It began with the rescue. It continues with this memorial. It is recorded in this museum. Together you endured. You chose to live out the words of St. Paul, ‘be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.’
“The presence of evil always reminds us of the need for vigilance,” Bush said. “All of us have an obligation to confront evil wherever and whenever it manifests itself. We must enforce laws and reject hatred and bigotry, and we have a duty to watch for warning signs.
“Last year, the United States Secret Service conducted a study of targeted violence in our nation’s schools,” Bush noted. “They found that most of the time, the person who planned the violence told someone before the attack. In almost every case, the individual displayed some behavior that caused others to be concerned. We all have a duty to watch for and report troubling signs.
“The evil that destroys and the good that saves are equally real. Both can be taught. Both can be learned,” Bush stated. “Our first response to evil must be justice, yet a part of us is never satisfied by justice alone. We must search for more, for understanding and healing beyond punishment.
“Faith tells us that all wrongs are righted and all suffering redeemed, but that faith is tested, especially for those of you with empty chairs at home. Hardest of all is the loss of the children, or the lives taken so soon after they were given,” Bush said. “We are never closer to God than when we grieve.
“Faith is tested in suffering, and faith is also born in suffering. For that is when we seek the hope we most need. That is when we awaken to the greatest hope there is.
“That is when we look beyond our lives to the hour when God will wipe away every tear and death will be swallowed in victory. On this earth, tragedy may come even on a warm spring day, but tragedy can never touch eternity. This is where they were last, but beyond the gates of time lie a life eternal and a love everlasting,” Bush said.
“You in Oklahoma City were victims of tragedy and witnesses to hope. You’ve overcome evil and you have suffered with courage. And for that your nation is grateful.”
Timothy McVeigh, the man who along with former Army buddy Terry Nichols carried out the bombing, is sentenced to die on May 16.
Hunter is the evening editor with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.