On the morning of April 19th, 1995, a man by the name of Timothy James McVeigh committed a crime that only he could refer to as "an act of heroism". McVeigh, with a homemade bomb, blew up a government building: Alfred P. Murrah Building. A memorial service four days later was held, in which President Bill Clinton speaks of the grief this tragedy has caused and how one cannot allow the grief to overcome them. He reassures the families and anyone who has suffered a loss that God will undo their pain, and leaves flowers for those who have lost their lives as represented in figure one. In delivering his "Bombing Memorial Prayer Service Address" President Clinton, through religious references and bible verses, captures the attention of the audience whom are looking toward a higher power for consolation.
Figure One: Terry, Bryan."Bill Clinton at Oklahoma Bombing Memorial." 1995. Photograph. Newsok. Web. 4 October 2010.
After unifying the people in attendance and watching via television, by stating, "…to the people of Oklahoma City who have endured so much, and the people of this wonderful state, to all of you who are here as our fellow Americans", Clinton uses religious diction to appeal to the emotions of the grief stricken audience. When Clinton states, "This terrible sin took the lives of our American family, innocent children in that building…" he makes it known to the audience that the bombing was something not done by God. Clinton gives advice to all in attendance and those listening beyond Oklahoma City by stating, "To all my fellow Americans beyond this hall, I say, one thing we owe those who have sacrificed is the duty to purge ourselves of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil." This continuation of phrases such as, "sin", and "evil", allows the audience to connect with Clinton on a personal level knowing that he is a religious man who finds comfort in God after tragedy. To make it further known to the audience that it is God who will be with them in this time, and who will bring justice, Clinton says, "Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness" Those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind. Justice will prevail." By saying "will inherit the wind." Clinton uses a bible reference to appeal again to the audience's religious background, and connects with them on a personal level. Another way Clinton, through bible references, appeals to the audience is when he states, "As St. Paul admonished us, let us "not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."" All references to the bible show Clinton's sincerity, and ability to look past the separation of church and state to comfort the citizens of his country.
Clinton's concluding statement to the city, as well as America shows that it is his understanding of his audience that allows him to say, "My fellow Americans, a tree takes a long time to grow, and wounds take a long time to heal. But we must begin. Those who are lost now belong to God. Some day we will be with them. But until that happens, their legacy must be our lives. Thank you all, and God bless you."
Clinton, William Jefferson.“Bombing Memorial Prayer Service Address” Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 23 April. 1995. American Rhetoric. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.
Ottley, Ted. "Timothy McVeigh & Terry Nichols: Oklahoma Bombing." TruTv. Web. 4 Oct 2010.
"YouTube - William J. Clinton: Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Speech" YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 04 Oct. 2010.