Marking the six-month anniversary of the deadly bombing that ripped apart the Oklahoma City federal building, B’nai B’rith International presented the people of Oklahoma with $515,000 for disaster relief at a Capitol Hill ceremony this week.
Members of Congress and B’nai B’rith officials used the occasion Thursday to call for the swift passage of anti-terrorism legislation pending in Congress.
Religious leaders, rescue workers, members of Congress, and Attorney General Janet Reno gathered at the ceremony hosted by Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and B’nai B’rith to remember the victims of the bombing and to pay tribute to the heroes who worked to save lives and heal the pain.
“These brave men and women came from around the country, leaving their families for weeks at a time. They worked long hours under difficult, life-threatening conditions,” Tommy Baer, international president of B’nai B’rith, said of the rescue workers.
B’nai B’rith presented Oklahoma’s congressional delegation with a symbolic check representing the more than $515,000 in contributions B’nai B’rith had collected from more than 10,000 people across the country.
Baer joined congressional leaders in calling on the House of Representatives to support anti-terrorism legislation already approved by the Senate.
“The bombing of the Murrah Building taught use – and the sabotage of the Amtrak train in Arizona confirmed – that the cancer of violence has taken root here in the United States,” he said. “We have learned that the tools of yesterday do not suit the radicalism of today.”
He urged Congress to “pass this bill before more innocent American lives are lost.”
Anti-terrorism measures making their way through Congress would ban fund raising by terrorist groups, beef up criminal sentences for convicted terrorists and give federal law enforcement agencies more tools to investigate suspected terrorists.
Reno, in her remarks, called on the American people to pull together and build partnerships.
“In the spirit of Oklahoma City, we must speak cut against divisiveness, we must speak out against racism,” she said.