- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Mourners yesterday marked the 12th anniversary of the bombing that killed 168 persons here by reaching out to victims of the Virginia Tech shootings and of violence everywhere.

Presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani told the crowd at the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that the response to the 1995 attack serves as an example to others recovering from violence.

The people of Oklahoma City “became a model of compassion and strength, both, a model that helped us several years later get through September 11 and a model that will help the people of Virginia Tech get through the terrible agonies that they are going through right now,” said Mr. Giuliani, who was New York City’s mayor during the 2001 terrorist attacks.

His comments came after participants observed 168 seconds of silence, one for each death, and before the names of the victims were read by family members.

Oklahoma City mourners gather at the site each April 19 to observe the anniversary of the bombing, which also injured hundreds.

Attention this year also focused on the Monday shooting deaths of 32 persons at Virginia Tech by a student who then killed himself.

Mr. Giuliani said much can be learned from how rescue workers controlled their fears at the damaged federal building while they navigated danger.

“We mourn and hurt and will never forget, but we don’t live under fear,” he said.

He also said it was important to never forget those who died.

“We owe to those we lost at Virginia Tech or to those that we lost here and on September 11 that we will do everything we can to prevent future attacks.”

Dina Abulon, whose stepfather Peter Avillanoza died in the bombing, told mourners she remembered Oklahoma City not for the attack but for the “countless acts of kindness” shown to her family as they waited days to learn her stepfather’s fate.

“Oklahoma City is worthy of being deemed the heartland,” said Miss Abulon, her voice trembling. “The community embraced our family. Every letter reminded me that I wasn’t alone.”

In the attack, a cargo truck packed with two tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil was detonated in front of the nine-story federal 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. He 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.

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