Thursday marks 17th anniversary of Oklahoma City bombing - KCTV5 News

Thursday marks 17th anniversary of Oklahoma City bombing

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Photo Courtesy: KCTV5's Laura McCallister Photo Courtesy: KCTV5's Laura McCallister
The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children in a day-care center and more than 500 survivors were injured. (Source: CNN) The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children in a day-care center and more than 500 survivors were injured. (Source: CNN)

Thursday marks the 17th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

On April 19, 1995, a bomb exploded at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

The blast killed 168 people and wounded more than 500.

A ceremony was held Thursday morning at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum where 168 seconds of silence was observed at 9:02 a.m. to honor the victims.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin took part in a ceremony to honor the victims.

"Seventeen years ago an unimaginable, shocking act occurred of terrorism that was perpetrated on the people of Oklahoma. 168 lives were lost here, this very site. And as we look at it today, and it's beautiful. It's a pretty day, light wind, pretty trees, birds flying. It's hard to even imagine what could have happened here 17 years ago with those 168 lives and 19 children who we lost. When you think about the horror, the brutality, even the evil that occurred when the Murrah Building was bombed, it can never be overstated the loss that Oklahoma experienced. And it would have been very easy for that attack to cripple our city, to hold it back, to leave our people hopeless. But it did not. Instead, the people of Oklahoma rose up, and they banded together with the help of so many," Fallin said.

Christopher Winn led the assembly in the moment of silence to mark the somber occasion. Winn is one of only six children who survived from the second-floor daycare center in the building.

"We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survive and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity. Please join me in 168 seconds of silence," he said.

Winn is now a senior at the University of Oklahoma.

"This day 17 years ago also started as a beautiful day. But it was shattered at 9:02 a.m. and ended as a day the nation should never forget. It was a day of unspeakable cowardice and pain that transcended into nearly two decades of bravery, compassion, vision and routine displays of character at the highest levels," said Gary Pierson, the chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum at Thursday's ceremony.

On April 21, 1995, the FBI arrested Timothy McVeigh as a suspect in the car-bombing attack on the federal office building in Oklahoma City. Days earlier, McVeigh had been taken into custody by a law enforcement officer for a motor vehicle violation.

Mcveigh, 27, was a decorated army veteran who authorities said held extreme anti-government views and had links to far right-wing paramilitary groups. Officials had previously identified McVeigh as "John Doe No. 1" and were still searching for "John Doe No. 2" at the time of his arrest.  Eventually, the FBI arrested McVeigh's friend, Terry Nichols, as "John Doe No. 2."

McVeigh claimed he targeted the building as revenge for the deadly FBI raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, two years to the day earlier.  He was convicted and later executed in 2001 for murder and conspiracy.

Nichols is serving life in federal prison.

The Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack ever to take place on U.S. soil prior to 9/11.

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved. CNN contributed to this report.

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