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Special Event

Oklahoma City Bombing Dedication Ceremony

Aired April 19, 2000 - 9:44 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we take you to Oklahoma City. This is the private dedication ceremony for the memorial that's taking place where the Murrah Federal Building used to stand.

Speaking right now is Dr. Robert Allen, speaking on: Where do we go from here?

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REV. ROBERT ALLEN, FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: ... will remind of us strangers who come to visit this site, and their hearts are deeply touched by the tragedy which occurred here. This whole memorial will serve as a reminder that hate many blow up buildings and it may claim innocent lives, but we as a people will never forget. We as a people will never forget.

(APPLAUSE)

Five years ago, I stood at this site. We had just completed a worship service shortly before the building was to be imploded. One of the rescue and recovery workers, one of the hundreds of people who give of their time trying to seek and recover individuals from the building came up to me after the service and said to me, where do we go from here?. Well, where we went is to this point today, the building of this beautiful national memorial, the building of this park.

But this question that he asked five years ago is a question which is still valid. Where do we go from here? This is a natural question whenever we come to some kind of crossroads in life. And we are at a crossroads today. We find ourselves wondering, wondering what we ought to be doing next. We find ourselves wondering where we ought to be going from this point. It would be so easy. It would be so easy for us to hold on to the heartaches and the anger which we all experienced because of that event five years ago.

Just a few weeks ago, I found myself getting angry because I was watching a TV program which did a long interview with Timothy McVeigh. As I watched the program, I remember the heartache that so many people experienced, and the sorrow which so many people experienced. And I found myself somewhere inside of me just angry that a convicted mass murderer would be given such a public forum. These feelings of anger and hatred and heartache and sorrow, they are common human emotions. They are natural. All of us have them. But we cannot hold on to them. We must learn to let go of them somewhere along the line. So where do we go from here?

Today, as we dedicate this beautiful national memorial, I want to suggest some directions for our lives. One is I think that we must learn to treasure the moments that we have experienced in life.

One of the best theologians of our society was not a person who taught at a university or a seminary, but he was a cartoonist, and he passed away just a couple of months ago, Charles Schulz. He did the cartoon strip "Peanuts."

Imagine Charlie Brown standing on the pitchers mound and the scoreboard in the outfield says 90 to nothing, Charlie Brown's team losing. And Charlie Brown is standing on the pitcher's mound saying, boy, I must be stupid to stand out here and take a beating like this. The other team is laughing at me. My own team is hating me. I'm a lousy pitcher. And Lucy walks up to console him and she says, Charlie, you can't go on like this. You've got to change your attitude. Remember the moments that you spend here on this pitcher's mound are moments to be treasured. We are not going to be kids forever, so treasure these moments here.

And then Charlie Brown, with a look of determination on his face, pulls down his baseball cap, rears back, fires a pitch to the pitchers -- to the batter, and the batter knocks a line drive straight back up the middle, knocks Charlie Brown flat on his back. His hat goes one way, his gloves go another way, his socks and shoes are knocked off and he's looking up at the sky, and he says, boy, this is a difficult moment to treasure.

As we stand at this national memorial, we know that there are difficult moments in life to treasure. But treasure them anyway. Treasure the gift of life. Remember the gift of the 168 lives who touched ours in some way. Remember the friends and the family that reached out to help. Remember the strangers whose lives were touched by the event that happened here five years ago.

One day here at the bomb site, a highway patrol officer called me over and introduced me to a young man. I believe his name was Chris. He told me his wife and son had died in the explosion. And he had just had the funeral service for them that morning and he wanted to know if there -- if he could put some flowers at the bomb site. And I said, Chris, security will not allow you in at this moment, but if you have some flowers, I'll be glad to put them there for you. And he said, I didn't think to bring any.

And as we were standing there, one of city councilmen Mark Schwartz (ph) came up and tapped me on the shoulder and said: Robert, somebody handed me this bouquet, what should we do with it?

I turned around and he had a big heart-shaped bouquet with a teddy bear sitting in the middle of the heart-shaped bouquet and one of those ribbons that came across and that simply said "For the children of Oklahoma City."

People that we have never met touched have our lives, life has its difficult and painful moments. There are occasions which come and just knock us flat on our backs, and the only left for us to do, when we are not flat on our back, sometimes, is to look up. And the only thing left for us to do is to trust that God will bring something good out of that which is painful in our lives.

And we must learn to get up and go on with our lives as well. In the Old Testament there is a story of Moses leading the children of Israel through the wilderness to the promise land, but as they shortly before they get ready to go into the promise land, Moses passes away, and Joshua has to lead them over. And the people are hesitant to go over.

And God says through Joshua: Moses, my servant, is dead. Now, therefore, arise, go over this Jordan River and into the land that I am giving to you.

What is God saying in these words? Perhaps he was reminding us that there comes a point in our lives when we need to simply let go of the grieving that we experience in life. There comes a point when we need to realize that life does, indeed, go on; there comes a point when the best thing that we can do is to arise, get up, and go on with our lives. Life is always changing. You and I are not the same people that we were five years ago. If you doubt that, just go look at a photograph of yourself.

We are all changing. Whether we want to admit it or not, we cannot go back, and we cannot change what has happened. Perhaps the only thing that we can do is come today and dedicate this national memorial, and hold on to the memories, the memories that this field of empty chairs represents, and treasure them, treasure them forever in our lives, and then arise, get up and go on with our lives.

And I think we also must learn to trust that God is with us. There is one claim which runs throughout of the bible. In the Old Testament God says: I will be with you. I will not leave you. I will not forsake you. I will not leave you alone.

In the New Testament, Jesus promises: Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. All of us need to realize that we come to those points when we face trouble, and we need to realize that we can get up and go on with our lives. This is -- God does not promise that he is going to make or troubles magically disappear. He simply promises that he will be here with us.

I was doing a TV program, news program, one morning on the last day before the building was to be imploded. There was still seven bodies left in the building. And I was in a motor home with a young man named Jim Texter (ph). He had lost his wife in the bombing, and they still, that morning, had not recovered her body. As we sat in that motor home, he talked and he told me about meeting his wife in junior high school. He told me about their son, and he shared the anxiety of waiting and waiting, but not wanting any other rescuer to be hurt.

And I ask him: Jim, how are you and your family holding up through all of this? And he said, the only way we have been able to make it through this is because God has been with us. God has given us the strength to face this. I would suspect that many people here have discovered that this is true. Even when we were not aware of it, God was with us, God was giving us strength, and God was helping us work our way through these things. And I can assure you, that even today, God is still here with us and God is still giving us strength. Thanks be to God.

(APPLAUSE)

BOB JOHNSON, OKLAHOMA CITY NATL. MEMORIAL: Thank you Dr. Allen.

Today, we will dedicate this site as a national memorial. And in some ways, it's not easy to turn this over to the world. It's sacred to us, it is our holy ground.

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): As I walked through the gates. I sensed his presence. And I knew this was a place where love abounds. For this is the temple, Jehovah, God. We are standing in his presence on holy ground.

We are standing on holy ground, and I know that there are angels all around. Let us praise Jesus now. We are standing in his presence on holy ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): In his presence, there is joy beyond measure, and peace of mind can still be found, still be found. If you have a need, I know he has the answer. Just reach out and claim it child, we are standing on holy ground.

We are standing on holy ground, and I know that there are angels all around. Let us praise Jesus now, we are standing in his presence on holy ground.

Let us praise Jesus now, we are standing in his presence, we are standing in his presence, we are standing in his presence on holy ground.

JOHNSON: Ladies and gentlemen, will you please join me for 168 seconds of silence to remember each of our loved ones lost.

(168 SECONDS OF SILENCE)

(BELL RINGING)

KAGAN: Our coverage continues and the news continues on CNN. Right now we take a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Our coverage now live from Oklahoma City. This the dedication of the national memorial there. We rejoin the ceremony, the benediction being read by the fire chaplain Ted Wilson, now in progress.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

TED WILSON, FIRE CHAPLAIN: ... friends who have become family. Continue, Father, to bind us up, our broken hearts, with your huge loving arms, healing, and your salve of our precious memories heal our hearts.

Father, this memorial represents the giving of a crown of beauty for ashes. Use it to set free those who have been bound in fear, hatred, and some in just plumb ignorance. Use it for -- to set them free with freedom and truth. Use it to produce willing servants of mankind and servants of yourself. God bless all of our families gathered here with your presence and grace and healing. For it's in my precious Lord's name that I pray, amen.

JOHNSON: It is the custom of each anniversary to remember each of those who perished here five years ago by reading their names aloud. Today as we do this, we ask that each family proceed to the gate to the memorial where you will be met by an honor guard who will escort you to your loved one's chair. There you will have a few moments for personal reflection before you're first joined by the survivors and then by the rescue workers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Oklahoma Water Resources Board family remembers Trudy Jean Rigney, Robert N. Chipman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Athenian Building, the Job Corps, we remember Kathryn Elizabeth Ridley, Anita Christine Hightower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rescue community remembers the heroic actions of Rebecca Anderson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States Secret Service family remembers Alan G. Whicher, Kathy Lynn Seidl, Linda G. McKinney, Mickey B. Maroney, Donald Ray Leonard, and Cynthia Campbell Brown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Drug Enfortment Administration remembers today and will never forget: Kenneth Glenn McCullough, Carrie Ann Lenz and her unborn son Michael James Lenz III, Rona Lynn (ph) Cuhner Chafey, Carol June "Chip" Fields, and Shelley Turner Bland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The United States Department of Houseing and Urban Development remembers 35 employees: Clarence Eugene Wilson Sr., Francis Ann "Fran" Williams, Michael D. Weaver, David Jack Walker, Jules A. Valdez, Leora Lee Sells, Lanny Lee David Scroggins, Antonio "Tony" C. Reyes, Dr. George Michael Howard, DVM, Susan Jane Ferrell, Kimberly K. Clark, Donald Earl Burns Sr., David Neil Burkett, Peter R. Avillanoza, Ted L. Allen, Joanne Whittenberg, John Karl VanEss III, John Thomas Stewart, Terry Smith Reese (ph), Patricia Ann Nix, Betsy J. "Bebe" McGonnell, James A. McCarthy II, Mary L. Rentie, Teresa Lea Lauderdale, Ann Cramberg (ph), Thompson Eugene "Gene" Hodges Jr., Jay Colleen Giles (ph), Diana Lynne Day, Kim R. Cousins, Andria Yvette Blanton, Diane Holingsworth (ph) Althouse, and Paul Gregory Broxterman, UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States Marine Corp remembers Captain Randy A. Guzman and Sergeant Benjamin L. Davis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States Customs Service Office of Investigations honors the memory of senior special agents Claude Arthur Medearis and Paul Douglas Ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States Department of Agriculture remembers and honors Rheta Bender Long, Carol Sue Khalil, Doris Adele Higginbottom, Richard "Dick" Cummins, Dr. Margaret L. "Peggy" Clark, James E. "Jim" Boles, and Olen Burl Bloomer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States Army Recruiting Command remembers Wanda Lee Watkins, Kayla Marie Titsworth, Doris Stratton, Sergeant Victoria Sohn, John C. Moss III, Peggy Louise Holland, Karen Gist Carr, and Sgt. First Glass Lola Boldon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Federal Highway Administration family remembers John A. Youngblood, Johnny Allen Wade, Rick L. Tomlin, Michelle A. Reeder, Jerry Lee Parker, Ronota Ann Newberry Woodbridge, James K. Martin, Larry James Jones, Michael Carrillo, Mark Allen Bolte, and Lucio Aleman Jr.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Federal Employees Credit Union family remembers Teresa Joe Matthis Worton (ph), Virginia M. Thompson, Victoria Jeneatte Texter, Karan How (ph) Shepherd, Sonia Lynn Sanders, Christi Rosas, Claudine Ritter, Jill Diane Randolph, Frankie Ann Merrell, Claudette Duke Meek, Cathy Cagel Lyman (ph), Valerie Joe Koelsch, Alvin J. Justice, Christi Yolanda Jenkins, Robin Ann Huff, and baby Amber Denise Huff, Linda Coleen Housley, Sheila R. Gieger Driver (ph) and baby Gregory N. Driver II, Jamie Lialkowski Genzer, Kathy A. Finley, Kimberly Ruth Burgess, and Woodrow Clifford "Woody" Brady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Defense Security Service remembers Robert G. Westberry, Larry L. Turner. Norma Jean Johnson. Peter L. DeMaster, and Harley Richard Cottingham.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The friends, coworkers and associates of U.S. Food Service remembers Scott D. Williams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With God's abiding love, America's Kids Child Development Center will always live in our memories hearts and lives forever. Colton Wade Smith, Chase Dalton Smith, Dominique Reve (ph) London, Blake Ryan Kennedy, Wanda Lee (ph) Howell, Kevin Lee Gotshell II, Tevein Garrett, Tyler Santoy East (ph), Brenda Faye Daniels, J.C. Ray Coal (ph), Elijah S. Coverdale, Aaron M. Coverdale, Antonion Ansara Cooper Jr., Anthony Cooper, Christopher Cooper II, Dana Leigh Ann Cooper, Zachary Taylor Chavez, Danielle Nicole Bell, Miss Baylee Almon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The General Services Administration will always remember Michael L. Loudenslager, and Steven Douglas Curry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Social Security Administration family remembers our coworkers and our customers, Sharon Louise Wood Chestnut, W. Steven Williams, Julie Marie Welch, Robert N. Walker, Jr., Luther H. Treanor, Larue A. Treanor, Michael George Thompson, Charlotte Andria Lewis Thomas, Emelio Tapia, Eula Leigh Mitchell, Derwin W. Miller, Cartney J. McCraven, Reverend Gilberto X. Martinez. Robert Lee Luster Jr., Aurelia Donna Luster, Lakesha Richardson Levy, Raymond Lee Johnson, Gene Neting Herbert (ph), Doctor Charles E. Herbert (ph), Thomas Lynn Hawthorne Senior.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ronald Vernon Harding Senior, Sheryl E. Hammon, Ethel L. Griffin, Margaret Betterton Goodson, Laura Jane Garrison, Mary Anne Fritzler, Don Fritzler. Ashly Megan Eckles, Katherine Louise Cregan, Gabroan Ruth (ph), Peach Lynn Bradley, Carol Louise Bowers, Cassandra Kay Booker, Oleta C. Biddy, Peola Battle, Calvin Battle, Saundra G. "Sandy" Avery, Pamela Celveland Argo, Richard A. Allen, Teresa Alexander.

HEMMER: You've been watching the dedication ceremony live for the Oklahoma City National Memorial live from Oklahoma City.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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