WASHINGTON, April 5 -- President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton planted a white dogwood tree on a hill on the South Lawn Friday in memory of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and the others killed in the Balkans aircrash. The president performed the ceremony before flying off to Oklahoma City for a memorial for the 168 people killed nearly a year ago in the terrorist bombing that destroyed the Alfred Murrah federal building.
After the first couple shoveled several spades of dirt around the 6- foot tree, Clinton noted that nearby was another dogwood planted for the 168 killed in Oklahoma City April 19. Brown died when his plane slammed into a mountain in Croatia Wednesday. The popular Cabinet official was on a tour to expand trade and reconstruction in war-ravaged former Yugoslavia. 'We hope the prayers of the American people will be with them and their families as they go through this very difficult time,' Clinton said. The president said that dogwood is his favorite tree and is symbolic of Easter and the Resurrection. The blossoms of the tree are in the shape of a cross. Attending the tree-planting ceremony was the wife of Rep. Bill Brewster, D-Okla., who flew with the president to Oklahoma for a full day of activities including a wreath laying, the dedication of a plaque and a speech to the community recovering from the 1995 bombing. The somber Clintons hugged and kissed Mrs. Brewster. She earlier told reporters their two teenage children died in a plane crash on the day her husband announced he was running for Congress. He was first elected in 1990. Clinton visited Brown's family Thursday night. It was the second time he went to pay his respects to Mrs. Brown since her husband perished in the crash.