Oklahoma City Speech
April 23, 1995
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.
We 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. And 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 it takes.
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. (Applause.) 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 will prevail.
Let 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
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 lives.
Thank you all, and God bless you.