NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

National News

April 20, 2010

Oklahoma City marks 15 years since bombing

OKLAHOMA CITY — It's been 15 years since a terrorist's bomb destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people and injuring more than 600 others.

The passage of time hasn't made mourning any easier for many victims' family members.

"Time heals nothing," said Debi Burkett Moore, whose brother, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development worker David Burkett, was killed. She and other family members placed flowers on an empty chair meant to honor her brother that's among a field of chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

"It makes it a little more bearable, but it heals nothing," Moore said.

About 2,000 people gathered at the memorial yesterday to honor those killed and injured in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. At the time, it was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

For many in attendance, a visit to the memorial is an annual rite — a way to pause and remember a loved one, former colleague, friend or neighbor who died in the attack.

Kathryn Burkett, the mother of David Burkett, said she grows sadder by his absence with each passing year.

"Why it is sadder? I don't know why," Burkett said. "You just live with it."

Other victims' family members said they, too, still feel a deep sense of grief 15 years after the bombing.

"I don't make it here every year. It's just too hard. It's just like yesterday," said Cornelius Lewis III, who wore a T-shirt and medallion that bore the portrait and nickname, "Puddin," of his late sister, Social Security Administration employee Charlotte Thomas.

"In 15 years, I would never miss it," said her mother, Bettie Lewis. "This is part of our lives. I would never miss it."

Vickie Lykins and her sister, Angela Richerson, placed a rose, an American flag and a colorful purple ribbon on the chair honoring their mother, Norma "Jean" Johnson, a former Defense Security Service worker who was killed.

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