Remarks By The President During
"A Time of Healing" Prayer
April 23, 1995
Oklahoma State Fair Arena
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Governor Keating and Mrs. Keating,
Reverend Graham, to the families of those who have been lost and wounded, to
the people of Oklahoma City, who have endured so much, and the people of this
wonderful state, to all of you who are here as our fellow Americans.
I am honored to be here today to represent the American people.
But I have to
tell you that Hillary and I also come as parents, as husband and wife, as
people who were your neighbors for some of the best years of our lives.
Today our nation joins with you in grief. We mourn with you. We share
your hope against hope that some may still survive. We thank all those who have
worked so heroically to save lives and to solve this crime -- those here in
Oklahoma and those who are all across this great land, and many who left their
own lives to come here to work hand in hand with you.
pledge to do all we can to help you heal the injured, to rebuild this city, and
to bring to justice those who did this evil.
This terrible sin took the lives of our American family, innocent
children in that building, only because their parents were trying to be good
parents as well as good workers; citizens in the building going about their
daily business; and many there who served the rest of us -- who worked to help
the elderly and the disabled, who worked to support our farmers and our
veterans, who worked to enforce our laws and to protect us. Let us say clearly,
they served us well, and we are grateful.
But for so many of you they were also neighbors and friends. You saw
them at church or the PTA meetings, at the civic clubs, at the ball park. You
know them in ways that all the rest of America could not.
to all the members of the families here present who have suffered loss, though
we share your grief, your pain is unimaginable, and we know that. We cannot
undo it. That is God's work.
Our words seem small beside
the loss you have endured. But I found a few I wanted to share today. I've
received a lot of letters in these last terrible days. One stood out because it
came from a young widow and a mother of three whose own husband was murdered
with over 200 other Americans when Pan Am 103 was shot down. Here is what that
woman said I should say to you today:
The anger you feel is valid, but you must not allow yourselves to be
consumed by it. The hurt you feel must not be allowed to turn into hate, but
instead into the search for justice. The loss you feel must not paralyze your
own lives. Instead, you must try to pay tribute to your loved ones by
continuing to do all the things they left undone, thus ensuring they did not
die in vain.
Wise words from one who also knows.
You have lost too much, but you have not lost everything. And you have
certainly not lost America, for we will stand with you for as many tomorrows as
If ever we needed evidence of that, I could only recall the words of
Governor and Mrs. Keating. If anybody thinks that Americans are mostly mean and
selfish, they ought to come to Oklahoma. If anybody thinks Americans have lost
the capacity for love and caring and courage, they ought to come to Oklahoma.
To all my fellow Americans beyond this hall, I say, one thing we owe
those who have sacrificed is the duty to purge ourselves of the dark forces
which gave rise to this evil. They are forces that threaten our common peace,
our freedom, our way of life.
Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of
righteousness. Those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind. Justice
us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear.
When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there
is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. In the face of death,
let us honor life. As St. Paul admonished us, let us not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
Yesterday Hillary and I had the privilege of speaking with some
children of other federal employees --children like those who were lost here.
And one little girl said something we will never forget. She said, we should
all plant a tree in memory of the children. So this morning before we got on
the plane to come here, at the White House, we planted a tree in honor of the
children of Oklahoma.
It was a dogwood with its wonderful spring flower and its deep,
enduring roots. It embodies the lesson of the Psalms -- that the life of a good
person is like a tree whose leaf does not wither.
My fellow Americans, a tree takes a long time to grow, and wounds take
a long time to heal. But we must begin. Those who are lost now belong to God.
Some day we will be with them. But until that happens, their legacy must be our
Thank you all, and God bless you.
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