OKLAHOMA CITY – It was an attack that shattered our nation’s sense of peace and security even before The Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Seventeen years ago Thursday, an American terrorist blew apart Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Thursday, the 168 victims were honored at the annual Oklahoma City Bombing Anniversary Remembrance ceremony.

Bombing survivors, family members, friends and dignitaries from state and federal government agencies gathered in the memorial park that now sits on the site of the former Murrah federal building.

A long bagpiper marching along the memorial mall’s reflecting pool opened the ceremony.

Ceremony attendees observed 168 seconds of silence.

The moment of silence was led by a young man who was just one of six infants to survive the bombing in the federal building’s daycare center.

Then, loved ones took turns reading the names of each person lost that day.

Several guest speakers shared memories from that day and words of hope for a city that still struggles with what happened.

“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, not only from those who came together from here within the city and from across the state, from every county across the state, but from across our nation, from around the world,” Gov. Mary Fallin said.

“It’s not all about grieving, but simply about remembering. And making light of a dark situation. It’s about the impact that so many of us suffer from. It is about telling the story of something that we will truly never forget,” Morgan Taylor Merrell, who lost his mother in the bombing, said.

After the ceremony, many walked the field of empty chairs that serves as a year-round park memorial for the bombing victims.

There are 168 chairs, one for each victim and inscribed with their name.

In the rubble of the federal building, a tree was salvaged and named “The Survivor Tree.” It was nursed back to health and planted in the memorial park.

Each year, its seedlings are cultivated at an Oklahoma nursery and those trees are made available through the memorial’s foundation.

(Copyright © 2012 NBC Universal, All Rights Reserved)

Source : 17 years later, Oklahoma City still remembers and mourns – 9NEWS.com