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New Beginning In Oklahoma City

John Taylor says the tears don't come as easily now.

He joined thousands of people Sunday who watched groundbreaking ceremonies for a memorial to honor the 168 people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. Among the victims was Taylor's 41-year-old daughter, Teresa Lauderdale.

"I've been thinking about all the time she spent working here helping people," he said. "The crying is not as much and not as frequent as it once was."

Vice President Al Gore and Attorney General Janet Reno were on hand, promising to never forget the children and adults who died in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building.

"The people who died here were victims of one of the cruelest visitations of evil this nation has ever seen," Gore said. "But we offer them today not pity but honor, for as much as any soldier who ever fought in any war, they paid the price of our freedom."

One after another, people grasped the shiny shovel Gore passed to them and took turns tossing over the loose soil.

The two-day groundbreaking continues Monday when a portion of the chain-link fence that surrounds the site is moved to become part of the permanent memorial. That will be followed by a vigil attended by family and friends.

The fence that surrounded the site has become something of a shrine, with visitors leaving mementos.

The fence holds "the real story of our democracy. This is how we feel," Gore said.

He then handed the shovel to Clint Seidl, who was in the second grade when his mother died. She worked for the Secret Service, and Clint said he wants to do the same.

The $24.1 million memorial will include a reflecting pool, an interactive museum, and 168 stone chairs -- to remain empty in memory of the 168 victims -- built atop glass bases.

Taylor said his daughter was on his mind much of the day. "It's not rejoicing," he said. "It's a sense of accomplishment."

Signs of the bombing are still starkly evident. To the left of the stage stood the remains of The Journal Record building, which still has an exposed roof and debris scattered throughout its six floors. Behind the stage was the old YMCA building, its broken windows boarded up.

Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to death for the bombing. Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison as a bombing conspirator. Both have appealed their convictions and sentences.

Greg Smith of Oklahoma City called Sunday's events a beginning and an end.

"I am glad to see some closure to this," Smith said. "A lot of us want to get along with our lives and forget the tragedy but not the people inside. That is what we want to remember."

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