Giuliani: Nation Learned From Okla. City

The Associated Press
Friday, April 20, 2007; 12:04 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Rudy Giuliani told mourners gathered at the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on Thursday that the strength they showed after the bombing 12 years ago is an inspiration for survivors of Sept. 11 and the Virginia Tech shootings.

The presidential hopeful told the gathering of more than 300 at the Oklahoma City National Memorial that Oklahoma City became a "model of compassion and strength" after the bombing.

"A model that helped us several years later get through Sept. 11," said Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City at the time, "and a model that will help the people of Virginia Tech get through the terrible agonies that they are going through right now."

The ceremony included one second of silence for each of the 168 people killed. Each victim's name was recited.

Bombing survivor Martin Cash said time has not diminished the memory of the friends and co-workers he lost.

"We will never forget," he said. "And we're not going to let anybody else forget."

Dina Abulon, whose stepfather Peter Avillanoza died in the bombing, said her family went through several agonizing days watching television as rescuers dug through the rubble searching for victims and survivors.

Abulon said she remembered Oklahoma City not for the bombing, but for the "countless acts of kindness" that members of the community showed her family as they waited to learn the fate of her stepfather.

"Oklahoma City is worthy of being deemed the heartland," said Abulon, her voice trembling with emotion. "The community embraced our family. Every letter reminded me that I wasn't alone."

Doris Jones, whose pregnant daughter, Carrie Ann Lenz, was killed in the bombing, said it is hard to believe it has been 12 years since she saw her daughter.

"It just seems like forever," Jones said. She said the trauma she experienced after her daughter's death has diminished over time.

"The days are easier to get through," she said. "The hours are not all filled with sadness. I don't cry all day now."

Dan McKinney, whose wife, Linda, was killed, said it helps the healing process to reunite with others who are coping with the loss of husbands, wives, fathers and mothers.

"It just helps to be around these people," McKinney said. "It took us about this long to learn to live with this.

"You think you are getting better and better until this day hits. It just brings it all back. It's like it was yesterday. It literally almost killed me."

In the attack, a cargo truck packed with two tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil was detonated in front of the nine-story building on April 19, 1995.

Timothy McVeigh was apprehended less than two hours later. He was convicted of federal murder charges and was executed June 11, 2001. Terry Nichols, who met McVeigh in the Army, was convicted of federal and state bombing charges and is serving life prison sentences.

Another Army buddy, Michael Fortier, pleaded guilty to not telling authorities in advance about the bomb plot and agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols. Fortier was released from a federal prison in January 2006 after serving most of a 12-year sentence.

Prosecutors said the bombing was a twisted attempt to avenge the deaths of about 80 people in the government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, exactly two years earlier.

© 2007 The Associated Press