Nairobi, Kenya — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton began her last day in Nairobi at Memorial Park, paying tribute to the 218 people who were killed in the August 7, 1998, bombing of the U.S. Embassy and the more than 4,000 people who were injured.
Clinton also spent time with the survivors of the blast — some blinded for life — and with the families of the victims. The terrorist group al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in both Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Dar es Salaam bombing killed nine Tanzanians, one Kenyan and one Somali and injured 85 others.
Clinton told those gathered in Nairobi that for herself and for her delegation, which included members of the U.S. Congress, visiting the memorial offered “an opportunity to renew our resolve, to do all that we can to ensure that these attacks do not take more innocent lives in the future and to renew our commitment to search for peace and reconciliation with all who are willing to turn from the path of violence.”
Clinton pledged that the United States will continue to work with the Kenyan government to ensure that the 218 lives that were taken were not lost in vain. She added that the survivors have taken it upon themselves to work for peace and “stand as a living symbol against those who favor death over life.”
With the downtown noise of Nairobi in the background, Clinton recalled her memory of the tragic event.
“I remember, with my husband [Bill Clinton, who was then president], meeting a lot of the American survivors and their families and the families of those who did not survive. We spent time with each of them. It was so heart-wrenching to hear the stories of loss and pain, and it is heartening to me now to be standing here to see what that loss and pain has been turned into.”
Clinton said terrorism respects no boundaries, no race, ethnicity or religion, but is aimed at disruption and at denying people the opportunity to make their own decisions and live their own lives.
Standing next to Clinton was a young man, Michael Macharia, who at the age of 3 lost both his parents, who were victims of the blast.
Clinton commended the young man, who is being raised by his grandparents, for doing well in school and said she would tell President Obama about him.
At the time of the terrorist blast, the U.S. Embassy was located in congested downtown Nairobi. Memorial Park is now a living monument to the blast’s victims — on the grounds where the U.S. Embassy once stood.
Both Clinton and the Kenyan minister of foreign affairs, Moses Wetangula, signed the guest book and solemnly laid wreaths in front of the memorial, which bears the names of those who died.
Wetangula told those gathered that the bombing was a “cowardly act carried out by enemies of civilization and enemies of peace” who caused enormous damage and loss of life.
“We come here today to remember those who lost their lives, those who were injured in the incident, but more importantly, to make a bold, clear and public statement: that our resolve to fight and resist terrorism in all of its manifestations, whenever and wherever, will not be cowed by such events. Our duty to make the world safe remains our cardinal law.”
He said the United States and Kenya must work together with other nations to ensure that such an attack never happens again.
Before leaving the site, Clinton and the Kenyan foreign minister and the delegation toured the Memorial Park Visitors Center.
Clinton was in Nairobi to attend the Eighth AGOA Forum on the first stop of a seven-nation Africa trip that also will take her to South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.
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