I am thankful I went with friends to see this momument. It made it joyful to be with them otherwise I would have been to sadden to stay. They did a wonderful job in the building and design of this monument in paying tribute to those we all lost so dear that day on April 19, 1995 at 9:02am. I think we all hope and prayed it would never happen again, but 911 has changed that hope forever. The gates of time, reflecting pool and all the empty chairs, especially the litte ones will always be etched in my memory and heart. God bless them all!
"Never give up and never forget!"
This is a very moving memorial to those who were killed on April 19, 1995 by the bomb that Timothy McVeigh detonated in front of the Alfred Murrah Office Building. The building housed offices for several government agencies and a day care facility for their children. The bomb exploded at 9:02 a.m. and the outdoor memorial features two walls at the ends of a reflecting pool. The walls are labeled 9:01 and 9:03, enclosing the tragic moment. In the photo to the left you can see 168 chairs, one for each victim including smaller ones for the children. This is a very moving and poignantly beautiful memorial. I have not visited the museum yet, but my wife found it very well done and moving saying she had never seen one like it. It is probably the most must see of sights in the city.
The Oklahoma National Memorial is both a monument to the people killed in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and those who reached out to help as well as a museum to help teach visitors the impact of violence. It is a stark reminder of man's inhumanity to man, much like visiting a Nazi concentration camp though it is an artistic representation rather than a historical collection of buildings or remnants thereof. It is, however, just as powerful. The most moving is a plot of land filled with empty chairs, one for each person killed in the bombing. Particularly sad are the small ones, representing the children. The museum supposedly is quite a learning experience but with time limited and it not being included in our National Parks Pass, we opted to spend the time solely in the memorial proper. It's not a can't miss attraction in the US for foreign travelers or those with a shortage of time but for those passing this way on Route 66, it's a place to take a break and contemplate the preciousness of life itself.
On April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City suffered a terrorist attack and one of the government buildings was bombed. The site where the building once stood and the street where the truck was parked are now a national memorial.
The atmosphere is so tranquil and really respectful. There is nothing but the sound of nature and whispers (except for a few people who didn't show courtesy).
After walking through the memorial there is a spot to the side which is considered the children's area. There are tiled messages from children that sent in cards for the grieving city. On the other side are tiles of handprints that were sent as gifts.
Inside the museum, there is a timeline of the events leading up to the bombing. You, then, go into a room where you hear a recorded city meeting and then you hear the bomb go off. The lights flicker and then up on a screen the faces of all those who died in the bombing are up. A separate set of doors open and you go through a section that is all about the immediate aftermath of the bombing. There are glasses, children's shoes, coffee cups, and more found in the wreckage. There are interviews of survivors, family members, emergency crew and more. There are telecasts of reports from around the world. There is a section dedicated to the heros who stayed hours to help retrieve victims. Then there is an FBI section that shows how they caught the killer and the accomplice. At the end are individual areas for each victim. It so touching and truly heartbreaking but I really understood what it is to feel pride for the country you live in.
Built upon the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the Oklahoma City National Memorial provides a fitting monument to the 149 adults and 19 children killed on April 19, 1995, in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. It also honors all who responded to the event with caring and compassion.
The Memorial consists of a shallow black-bottomed relecting pool that stretches the length of the building's footprint. It is flanked by two large bronze gates. Each are etched with the numerals of a digital clock. The east gate bears the time 9:01, the moment immediately before the blast. The west gate reflects 9:03, the moment immediately after.
To the south of the pool is a field of 168 empty bronze chairs resting upon glass bases. 19 of the chairs are markedly smaller than the rest. Each base is etched with the name of a person who perished in the event and at night they are illuminated from within.
To the north of the pool is a raised terrace on which is located the "Survivor Tree." It is an American elm that withstood the full force of the explosion. In the days following the attack, it became a symbol of the strength and resiliency of the Oklahoma City community. It is surrounded by flowering and fruit trees, which symbolise the outpouring of support from the nation and the world.
Integral to the site is also the Memorial Museum, housed immediately south of the outdoor memorial. Through artifacts, photographs, and audio and video presentations, the museum tells the story of the event in 10 "chapters." Beginning with the quiet of an ordinary day, it takes visitors through the chaos of April 19, as well as the response and recovery. The "Gallery of Honor" room presents images of each person that died, along with a personal item selected to represent the individual by their family.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial stands as a witness to both the worst and the best of which mankind is capable. A visit to its hallowed ground is sure to move you to reflect upon its lessons.
If at all possible, visit the Memorial at night as well as by day. The contrast is remarkable. An evening visit also affords to the visitor the illuminated stained-glass windows on the First United Methodist Church (east of the Memorial) and the illuminated domes of the CityChurch a few blocks away to the north.
This picture depicts the open space where once stood the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Only the staircases and some hardened walls remain of the original structure. At the left in the photo is St Joseph's Cathedral, and in the background the Regency Towers, many of whose windows were blown out during the bombing. Designs for the National Memorial were chosen by a committee comprised of family members, survivors, rescuers, civil leaders and design professionals.
Almost immediately after the bombing, a chain-link fence was erected to preserve the site, but instead served to preserve the memories of the fallen. Nineteen children died in the second-floor daycare. The subsequent inflow from children around the nation of "care bears" literally overwhelmed the fence, along with photos, mementos and other tokens left by family and friends. This section is the "living" statement of the Memorial.
West of the Memorial grounds stands this small sculpture of Jesus with his face covered in agony. The sculpture stands with its back to the Memorial, as if looking away with a heavy heart. Today, the robes are embroidered with layer after layer of lipstick imprints leading all the way to the Christ's own cheek.
The reflecting pool divides the two Gates of Time, which "frame the moment of destruction" of 9:02 a.m. The east gate reads "9:01," signifying the last moment of innocence as we pursued our regular lives. The west gate is marked "9:03," when our lives changed forever. In the background (also reflected in the pool) is the Regency Tower.
Along the lawn south of the reflecting pool are 168 empty chairs representing the lives lost. Each is engraved with the victim's name, with the smaller chairs representing the murdered children. Visitors are required to keep to the walk encircling the chairs. Only family members are allowed to approach the markers directly.
With the coming of twilight, the perspectives at the Oklahoma City National Memorial change significantly. By day, the monument is a sober reminder of a terrible event in our history. By night, the memorial is a beautiful place.
Along with the perimeter structures and the Gates of Time, the 168 empty chairs glow in a surreal if not heavenly light. The effects of all ambient light on the reflecting pool is something not to be missed with any nocturnal visit to Oklahoma City. In the background center, you can plainly see the light blue illuminated edge of St Anthony's Hospital, one of many area hospitals under code black on April 19, 1995.
I was in my boss' office at 9:00 a.m. on April 19, a bright and cloudless day, when a convulsion rumbled up from the south and rattled the windows going north. The effects were electrifying, as co-workers struggled to determine the cause. I imagined three possibilities (a) that a small plane in distress had passed just over our office, (b) that our nearby 5-story-tall newspaper presses had collapsed, or (c) that we had just felt an earthquake. A few minutes later I heard the first news about "a bomb." In our relative innocence, we little understood the meaning. "What's a bomb?"
When the blast occurred, employees at the south end of our building turned to see a column of smoke tower over downtown. Within seconds the windows by which they stood trembled so violently -- even from 10 miles away -- that many feared they would explode. Downtown was a pandemonium. As events unfolded, radios educated the city on medical terminology. Triage - the bloodied and battered are divided by the severity of their wounds. Code black - overcrowded hospitals can accept no more patients.
Medical personnel were flown free to OKC to assist. Little towns in Oklahoma emptied out to donate blood. By mid-afternoon, the skies darkened and began to rain on the rescuers and rescued alike. By nightfall, the number recovered was comparatively small at 20. In the end, 168 lives would be claimed, including 19 children. Today, Oklahoma City drivers run their headlights every April 19 to commemorate our common experience.
April 19, 1995: Anarchist and white-supremicist Timothy McVeigh parks a rental truck loaded with explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. At 9:02 a.m., a massive explosion rips the face off of the entire north side of the building. 168 people die, including 19 children. An additional 30 children became orphans, and 219 children lost at least one parent. Over 300 buildings were damaged or destroyed.
The site is now a national memorial. You can not help but be touched with emotion while visiting these grounds, and be constantly reminded of the futility and senselessness of violence..
Please take a moment to look at additional photographs in my travelogue.