Inside the church that once served as a temporary morgue for the bodies of their loved ones, relatives of the 168 victims killed in the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing joined survivors and rescue workers Tuesday for a remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the crime.
"All of us respect you for the way you've borne tragedy over the last decade and for your great devotion to the memory of those who died here," Vice President Cheney told the audience of 1,600. They were gathered inside the First United Methodist Church, which was heavily damaged by the truck bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building across the street.
"Goodness overcame evil that day," Cheney added.
Former President Bill Clinton, who presided over an emotional memorial service in Oklahoma City just four days after the bombing, joined Cheney and reminded listeners that they had overcome tremendous loss to restore their city and replace the Murrah building with a new federal building nearby.
"Oklahoma City mourned its losses, embraced its survivors, built a magnificent monument to honor and remember, and then built the new federal building to serve its citizens and show that a terrorist act could not prevail," Clinton said.
The city's current mayor, Mick Cornett, directly acknowledged the wounds from the bombing that remain unhealed.
"I sense a lot of our citizens today are still trying to deal with" the bombing, Cornett said. Before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Oklahoma City bombing ranked as the worst act of terrorism ever to strike American soil.
The church was hushed at 9:02 a.m. -- the precise moment when the bomb exploded 10 years ago -- as 168 seconds of silence were observed.
Eight children of victims read the names of those killed, several sobbing as they came to the names of their own parents. The poignant scenes multiplied as the crowd, led by bagpipers playing a funereal march, walked across the street to the Oklahoma City National Memorial, where 168 bronze and glass chairs are spread across the site where the Murrah building formerly stood.
At the chair named for Lakesha Levy, a 21-year-old Air Force enlistee who was in the Murrah building to get a Social Security card, some 50 family members wearing commemorative T-shirts gathered close to sing, pray and cry during an impromptu memorial service.
"It's good that Oklahoma remembers," said Gail Batiste, Levy's aunt.
There was scarcely a mention during the morning's events of Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two disgruntled former Army buddies who were convicted of the bombing. McVeigh, formerly of Pendleton. N.Y., was put to death in June 2001, while Nichols is serving multiple life sentences on both federal and state charges.