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9/11, Oklahoma Victims Share Silence at Event

April 20, 2002|From Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Several World Trade Center families and those who lost loved ones in the Oklahoma bombing comforted each other Friday at ceremonies marking the seventh anniversary of what had been until Sept. 11 the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

About 20 Sept. 11 relatives, survivors and rescue workers stood with Oklahomans for 168 seconds of silence in memory of the 168 people killed in the bombing of the federal building on April 19, 1995. Church bells broke the quiet.

"Today they look just as sad as us," said Nicole Petrocelli, whose husband, Mark, died at the trade center. "I can see from the expressions on the faces that the pain is never going to go away. But it gives me hope to see that they are a little stronger than we are."

Standing under the branches of an elm that survived the blast, many wiped tears as a guitarist played "Amazing Grace" and when a bombing survivor sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

Families of New York victims placed one white carnation on each of the empty bronze chairs where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood.

William Rodriguez, who was pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center, said he came to thank the Oklahoma City bombing victims who visited New York last fall.

"The support that they gave us was very important because we didn't have any cathartic, emotional exchange with anyone who had gone through what we were going through," he said. "They are actually teaching us how to keep going."

Survivors of both tragedies said they share a bond that is unbreakable.

Jacquetta Lair, who placed a bouquet of yellow roses on a chair for her cousin, Oleta Biddy, said she knows how it feels to wait while rescuers search through the rubble. Her cousin's body was not recovered for weeks.

"They are going through now what we tried to get through then," Lair said. "It was always there in your face, and you couldn't get past it."

After the ceremony, many toured a new exhibit in the memorial museum that focuses on the similar experiences of terrorist victims.

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