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    18 years later, Oklahoma City still grieves, and mourns, too, for Boston

    Visitors to Oklahoma City paid tribute to 168 people killed April 19, 1995, in a bombing at the federal building there.
    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press
    Visitors to Oklahoma City paid tribute to 168 people killed April 19, 1995, in a bombing at the federal building there.

    OKLAHOMA CITY — It has been 18 years since a truck bomb detonated outside Oklahoma City’s federal building, but relatives of the 168 people killed in the attack said Friday their memories of the carnage and their sense of loss are as vivid as ever following the Boston Marathon explosions.

    ‘‘It opens that wound,’’ said Dawn DeArmon, whose mother, Federal Employees Credit Union employee Kathy Leinen, was killed in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

    Joyce Cleveland’s daughter, Social Security Administration worker Pamela Cleveland Argo, also died in the bombing. She said Monday’s explosions in Boston, which killed three people and injured more than 170, stirred past emotions and reminded her how difficult it has been to cope with Pamela’s death.


    ‘‘We just know what they’re going through and what they’ve got to go through,’’ Cleveland said. ‘‘They’ve got a long way to go.’’

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    She and DeArmon were among 800 people who filled a church near the former site of the federal building to remember those killed, the survivors, and search and rescue workers who sifted through the rubble from the nine-story structure for weeks after the attack.

    Speakers at the Oklahoma City ceremony remembered Boston even as they honored their own bombing victims.

    ‘‘Our hearts break for our fellow Americans,’’ Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said.

    Congressman James Lankford said many bombing survivors and victims’ family members believe they have recovered from their sense of loss until events like Boston occur.


    ‘‘We see the coverage and the footage and all the raw emotions come back again. And we realize it’s still extremely tender to us,’’ he said.

    Boston filled people’s conversations afterward, too.

    ‘‘You turn on the TV and you’re living this over and over,’’ said Jannie Coverdale, whose two grandsons, 5-year-old Aaron Coverdale and 2-year-old Elijah Coverdale, were among 19 children who died in the Oklahoma City bombing. ‘‘Even if we wanted to forget, we can’t forget.’’

    Relatives put flowers and mementos on empty chairs meant to honor each bombing victim at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum on the federal building’s former site.

    DeArmon, her 1-year-old granddaughter, Madison, and other relatives laid bouquets and a photograph of DeArmon’s mother on the chair that bears her name. DeArmon said it ‘‘breaks my heart’’ that Madison will never meet her great-grandmother.


    The Oklahoma City federal building was destroyed when a truck containing more than 4,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil exploded next to it. The bombing remains the worst domestic terror attack in US history.

    Prosecutors said Timothy McVeigh planned the bombing. He was convicted on federal charges in 1997 and executed in 2001. Terry Nichols also was convicted and is serving life sentences in a federal prison.