President Clinton Praises Oklahomans for Compassion
Staff and Wire Reports
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Former President Bill Clinton has paid his respects to the 168 people who were killed in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building 15 years ago.
Clinton visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial Wednesday night, shortly before receiving the Reflections of Hope Award from the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.
Clinton was president when the April 19, 1995, bombing occurred and is being honored for his efforts to rebuild downtown Oklahoma City following the attack.
He walked among a field of chairs that represent each of the victims who were killed and placed a bouquet of red roses on the chair dedicated to Alan Whicher, a Secret Service agent who lived in Edmond at the time of the bombing but had been part of Clinton's presidential detail just months earlier.
The former president stayed for about 15 minutes, then shook hands and greeted onlookers before leaving for the awards ceremony.
During an acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, Clinton emphasized the lessons learned and praised America's next generation.
Clinton said the legacy of the Oklahoma City bombing is the way the community united to help survivors and victims' family members, including foundations to help people recover from physical or emotional problems and scholarships for every child whose parent was killed or disabled.
"Oklahoma City changed me," he said. "Oklahoma City reminded us that how we respond to what happens to us determines who we are. It shows the world our identity. Oklahoma City changed America because of how you responded.
"The way you responded was like a ripple in the ocean of hope to give people the strength to carry on."
More on News9.com: President Bill Clinton Honored for Contributions During Murrah Bombing