Oklahoma City Memorializes Bombing

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - On the fifth anniversary of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, hundreds of survivors and relatives of those who died in the blast will join President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno Wednesday in unveiling a national memorial commemorating the 168 people killed in the blast.

Five years in the making, the bronze and stone memorial covers a square city block on the former downtown site of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, which was destroyed on April 19, 1995 by a truck bomb planted by Timothy McVeigh.

McVeigh has been sentenced to death for the explosion, and his former army buddy Terry Nichols has been given life in prison without parole for helping to plan the blast. Both men are appealing the federal verdicts. Nichols is still facing a state death penalty trial under Oklahoma law.

The $29 million memorial, paid for with private funds, includes a reflecting pool, trees, and 168 empty bronze chairs for each of the dead, arranged in rows to show which floor of the building each victim was on when they died.

"The empty chairs are a simple yet powerful portrayal of someone's absence. Like an empty chair at a dinner table, we are always aware of a loved one's absence," said architects Torrey Butzer and Sven Berg in a statement.

The memorial also commemorates the hundreds of people injured in the explosion, as well as rescue workers and survivors who helped in the aftermath of the disaster.