- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2001

OKLAHOMA CITY President Bush yesterday dedicated the final part of a memorial to victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, a museum that tells the story of the attack and the national effort to aid survivors and honor the dead.
"Here we remember one act of malice … yet we also remember many acts of human kindness and heroism and love," Mr. Bush told a crowd gathered in front of the museum, next to the grassy plaza where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood before the bombing. The plaza section of the monument opened last year.
The museum, which stands in a restored newspaper office that survived the blast, houses artifacts of the attack and thousands of notes and objects left by the public around the site afterward. It includes profiles of the 168 persons killed in the blast and recorded memoirs of survivors and rescuers.
In the shadow of the museum, Mr. Bush called for vigilance from all Americans and character education for children to prevent future attacks.
"In every family and in every school, we must teach our children to know and choose the good, to teach values and defeat violence, to teach good kids … to respect one another, to do unto others, the meaning of love," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush likely will sound similar themes throughout the week as he tours Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee touting his education plan that gives local authorities more control over schools but requires annual testing to show whether schools are improving. The emphasis on character education is a part of his overall education plan.
Mr. Bush met privately with survivors and toured the museum before making his remarks. He viewed the exhibits, signed a permanent registry of visitors and listened to the only known recording of the blast, taken from a session of a state board that was meeting across the street at the time.
President Clinton visited the Oklahoma City bombing site many times, at almost every stage of the memorial's development. His speech at a memorial service days after the bombing is widely credited with turning around his image, which had been plagued by poor approval ratings, the failure of his health care proposal and the Republican landslide in the 1994 congressional elections.
Mr. Bush, too, has had a close association with the site. As governor of neighboring Texas, he attended the memorial service after the attack. His wife, Laura, helped organize the service, suggesting the inclusion of the Rev. Billy Graham at the event.
Among the victims of the attack were members of the U.S. Secret Service, including some who had protected Mr. Bush's father when he was president. "We knew some of the agents here," Mr. Bush said during his tour.
Mr. Bush paid tribute yesterday to the people of Oklahoma.
"You in Oklahoma City are victims of tragedy and witnesses to hope," he said. "You have overcome evil and you have suffered with courage. And for that, your nation is grateful."
Leaders of the committee that oversaw the development of the memorial say the museum will help future generations understand the cost of terrorism.
"The memorial center is a testament to faith, the precious nature of the freedom from fear, and a reflection that Americans always unite in the face of a common enemy," said Bob Johnson, chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Trust.
"Without it, future generations will not learn of the horror of that moment and the innocence we lost," he said.
The bombing occurred April 19, 1995, at 9:02 a.m. local time. A powerful truck bomb destroyed the federal building and damaged more than 300 surrounding buildings. Of the 168 killed, 19 were children at a day care center inside the Murrah building.
Convicted bomber and Gulf war veteran Timothy McVeigh faces execution for the crime on May 16, the first federal prisoner to be executed in almost 40 years. He apparently was motivated by a deep hostility toward the federal government and a desire to provoke a popular revolution by attacking the federal building.
He has never expressed remorse for the attack.

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