[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[April 22, 1995]
[Pages 569-573]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks by the President and Hillary Clinton to Children on the
Oklahoma City Bombing
April 22, 1995

    The President. Today I've been joined by the First Lady and by 
children of people who work for our Federal Government, because we are 
especially concerned about how the children of America are reacting to 
the terrible events in Oklahoma City. Our family has been struggling to 
make sense of this tragedy, and I know that families all over America 
have as well.
    We know that what happened in Oklahoma is very frightening, and we 
want children to know that it's okay to be frightened by something as 
bad as this. Your parents understand it. Your teachers understand it. 
And we're all there for you, and we're working hard to make sure that 
this makes sense to you and that you can overcome your fears and go on 
with your lives.
    The First Lady has been very worried about all the children of our 
country in the aftermath of this tragedy, and she wants to talk with 
you, too, today.
    Mrs. Clinton. I'm very happy to have this chance to talk with 
children here in the White House and children who maybe have been 
watching cartoons or just getting up around the country and turning on 
the television set. I know that many children around the country have 
been very frightened by what they have seen and heard, particularly on 
television, in the last few days. And I'm sure that you, like many of 
the children I've already talked to, are really concerned because they 
don't know how something so terrible could have happened here in our 
    But you know, whenever you feel scared or worried, I want you to 
remember that your parents and your friends and your family members all 
love you and are going to do everything they can to take care of you and 
to protect

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you. That's really important for each of you to know.
    I also want you to know that there are many more good people in the 
world than bad and evil people. Just think of what we have seen in the 
last few days. Think of all the police officers and the firefighters, 
the doctors and the nurses, all of the neighbors and the rescue workers, 
all of the people who have come to help all of those who were hurt in 
Oklahoma. Think about the people around the country who are sending 
presents and writing letters. Good people live everywhere in our 
country, in every town and every city, and there are many, many of them.
    Like many of the families in America, our family has spent a lot of 
time in the last few days talking about what happened in Oklahoma, 
sharing our own feelings, our anger, our tears, our sorrow. All of that 
has been very good for us. And I hope you are doing it at home as well.
    I want all of the children to talk to people. Talk to your parents. 
Talk to your grandparents. Talk to your teachers. Talk to those grownups 
who are around about how you are feeling inside, how this makes you feel 
about yourself, so that they can give you the kind of reassurance, the 
hugs, the other ways of showing you that you can feel better about this 
because they love you and care about you very much.
    And finally, I want children to think about ways that all of you can 
help. Sometimes writing a letter or drawing a picture when you're sad or 
unhappy can make you feel better. Perhaps you could even send those 
pictures and letters to children in Oklahoma City. Maybe you could send 
a toy or a present. Maybe you can also just be nicer to your own friends 
at school and to help take care of each other better. I think that's one 
thing that all of us can do.
    Thankfully, we're going to be able to help the people there, and 
we're going to pray very hard for everybody who was injured and everyone 
who died. But let's also try to help each other. And there are many ways 
we can do that. And if we remember that, then I think all of us can get 
over being afraid and scared.
    The President. I'd like to take a moment to say a few words about 
this whole thing to the parents of America. I know it always--or, at 
least, it's often difficult to talk to children about things that are 
this painful. But at times like this, nothing is more important for 
parents to do than to simply explain what has happened to the children 
and then to reassure your own children about their future.
    Experts agree on a number of steps. First of all, you should 
encourage your children to talk about what they're feeling. If your 
children are watching news about the bombing, watch it with them. If 
they have questions, first listen carefully to what they're asking, and 
then answer the questions honestly and forthrightly. But then reassure 
them. Tell them there are a lot of people in this country in law 
enforcement who are working hard to protect them and to keep things like 
this from happening. Tell them that they are safe, that their own school 
or day care center is a safe place, and that it has been checked and 
that you know it's safe.
    And make sure to tell them without any hesitation that the evil 
people who committed this crime are going to be found and punished. Tell 
them that I have promised every child, every parent, every person in 
America that when we catch the people who did this, we will make sure 
that they can never hurt another child again, ever.
    Finally, and most important of all, in the next several days, go out 
of your way to tell your children how much you love them. Tell them how 
much you care about them. Be extra sensitive to whether they need a hug 
or just to be held. This is a frightening and troubling time.
    But we cannot let the terrible actions of a few terrible people 
frighten us any more than they already have. So reach out to one another 
and come together. We will triumph over those who would divide us. And 
we will overcome them by doing it together, putting our children first.
    God bless you all, and thanks for listening.

[At this point, the address ended, and the President and Hillary Clinton 
invited comments from the children.]

    The President. What about all of you, how do you feel about this? 
You got anything you want to say about what happened at the bombing? 
    Q. It was mean.
    The President. It was mean, wasn't it? What did you think when you 
heard about it the first time?
    Q. I didn't like it.
    Mrs. Clinton. It was very mean.

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    Q. I thought those people that did it should be punished very 
badly--to hurt the children.
    Mrs. Clinton. That's right, and they will be.
    The President. They should be punished, and they will be.
    Q. I feel sorry for the people that died.
    The President. You feel sorry for the people that died. Good for 
    Q. When I first heard about it, I thought, who would want to do that 
to kids who had never done anything to them?
    Mrs. Clinton. It's hard to imagine, isn't it?
    The President. That's very hard to imagine. There are some people 
who get this idea in their minds that there are people who have done 
something to them when they haven't done anything to them and who are 
told over and over again that it's okay to hate, it's okay to hate, it's 
okay to lash out, even at people they don't even know. And that's a 
wrong idea.
    That's the other thing I want to say to you. We need to--we need to 
all respect each other and treat each other with respect and be tolerant 
of our differences so that we don't have other people developing this 
crazy attitude that it's okay to hurt people you never even knew.
    Good for you.
    Q. I feel really bad for the people that died and the people that 
are in the hospital, especially for the parents because it's really hard 
to lose a child.
    The President. It's so hard.
    Mrs. Clinton. And I think all of us have to do everything we can to 
help the people who were hurt and to make sure they get everything they 
need, not only in the hospital but after that because they'll need 
people to talk to as well. And we have to be everything we can be to 
help the people who lost family members, like you said. It's going to 
take a very long time.
    The President. And we have to feel bad for their parents, too. You 
know how much your parents love you, and can you imagine how they would 
feel? So we've got to feel bad for their parents, too, and give them a 
lot of support.
    Q. I think the bomber should be in jail.
    Mrs. Clinton. You are right. You are right. There are many, many 
people working hard all over the country to find out who did this. And 
they're actually making some progress in finding out who did it, and 
they will keep doing that until the people are caught----
    Q. [Inaudible]--newspaper.
    Mrs. Clinton. Yes, that's right. And they'll be caught, and then 
they'll be punished.
    The President. Anybody else want to say anything?
    Mrs. Clinton. What do you think you can do here, which is far away 
from where it happened, that could help other people and to do things 
that would be nice and, you know, as a way of helping?
    Q. To send money to--[inaudible]----
    Mrs. Clinton. That's a good idea.
    Q. Send cards and presents.
    The President. To Oklahoma City.
    Mrs. Clinton. I think sending something--that would be good.
    Q. Like, send some of your old clothes and everything.
    Mrs. Clinton. Whatever they need, right? If somebody needs that, we 
should do that.
    Q. Like, we can bring them flowers sometimes.
    Mrs. Clinton. Bringing flowers to somebody is a really nice thing to 
do. Do you ever bring flowers to your mom or to a friend just because 
you love them? It's a good thing to do.
    Q. At my brother's day care when my school was closed, we planted 
trees to remember the kids that got hurt.
    Mrs. Clinton. That is a wonderful idea. Did you all hear what she 
said? They planted trees to remember the kids who got hurt. That's 
something that schools and day care centers could do all over the 
    The President. I think something should be done so that all of us 
remember those children in Oklahoma City, don't you? And all those 
    Q. We can write notes----
    Q. You can pray for the family members and the rescue workers who 
have been helping people throughout this terrible incident and for the 
family members who lost their employees and children.
    The President. That's right. That's something every one of you can 
do. You could say a prayer for them. It's a gift you can give them. It's 
very important. Thank you for saying that.
    Q. We can write letters and notes and let them know that we 
understand how they're feeling.
    The President. I think that's important, too.
    Yes. Do you want to say something? You want to say something? 
Anybody else like to say any-

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thing? You got any other ideas of things we can do?
    How many of you have really thought about this a lot in the last 
couple of days? Have you thought about it? You feel a little better now 
than you did a couple of days ago?
    Q. Yes.
    The President. Have you talked about it in your home? What about at 
school? Have they talked about it at school a lot? I think it's really 
    One more thing you can do is, to go back to what the First Lady said 
earlier, is when you see people at your school, if they're getting angry 
or they're getting mad or they say something bad about somebody just 
because of--because they're different than them, you ought to speak out 
against that. You ought to say, ``Look, we're all Americans; we're all 
here. We have to treat each other with respect. We're all equal in the 
eyes of God.'' And we cannot, we cannot permit people to have the kind 
of hatred that the evil people had who bombed that building in Oklahoma 
City. That is a--it's an awful thing. And every one of you, every day, 
can be a force against that kind of thing. You can change the country 
with your prayers and with your voice and by reaching out in all the 
ways you said.
    Thank you all very much.
    Mrs. Clinton. I'm so glad you could be here.
    Q. Mr. President?
    The President. Yes.
    Q. I'd like to thank you for having us here today and speaking to 
all the children.
    Mrs. Clinton. Thank you.
    The President. Thank you, Colonel. And I want to thank all the 
parents who are here. And I want to thank you for your service to our 
country and for working for our Government and assure you that most 
Americans, millions of them, the huge majority, really respect all of 
you. And all Americans are horrified by what has happened. And we thank 
you for being here, and we thank you for being good parents as well as 
serving our country and our Government.
    Mrs. Clinton.Thank you all.
    The President. And bless you.
    Q. Mr. President? President Clinton, there have been increasing 
reports about these so-called militia groups. Do you feel that the 
general atmosphere of antigovernment statements has contributed to the 
growth of groups like this?
    The President. Let me say that first of all, that this is coming on 
us in a couple of waves. When I was Governor of my State in the early 
eighties, we dealt with a number of these people and groups at home. 
That's one reason I felt such a horrible pang when I saw what happened 
in Oklahoma, you know, because it's just next door to Arkansas. And we 
had two incidences near the Oklahoma border in the early eighties.
    And in--as you probably know, there was just an execution in 
Arkansas a couple of days ago of a man who killed a State trooper and 
who was a friend of mine and a businessman in southwest Arkansas, who 
was part of this whole movement. And there were other instances as well.
    And then it went down a while, you know, the sort of the venom, the 
hatred; the atmosphere got better, and the American people rose up 
against that kind of thing.
    I think that we should wait until this whole matter is thoroughly 
investigated and until we know the facts to draw final conclusions.
    But I will say that--that all of us, just as I told these children, 
all of us need to be more sensitive, to treat each other with tolerance, 
and not to demonize any group of people and certainly not these fine 
people who work for the Nation's Government. They are, after all, our 
friends and neighbors. We go to school with their children. We go to 
church with them. We go to civic clubs with them. This is--this is not 
necessary, and it is wrong.
    But I will have some more to say about this whole matter as we know 
more facts about this case and about where we're going in the future.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:06 a.m. from the Oval Office at the 
White House. These remarks were broadcast live on radio and television.

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