In the middle of the monument, the Reflecting Pool sits where 5th street used to run. The pool is a thin layer of water running over a black granite slab. The flowing water is meant to soothe wounds, and creates a tranquil setting. Those who look in the pool are supposed to see the face of someone who was changed by terrorism. On the north and south sides of the pool are the gates of time. These two towers are marked with "9:01" and "9:03", sandwiching the fateful moment of the explosion. 9:01 represents the last minute of innocence, while 9:03 represents the first moment of recovery.
The outside of each gate carries the following transcription: "We come here to remember Those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."
Another striking symbol of what happened here. There are 168 chairs in the field, each a symbol for a life lost in the bombing. The sight of the 19 small chairs representing the children whose lives were lost is particularly gut-wrenching. Afterward, I read that the chairs are arranged in nine rows, for each floor of the Murrah building. The glass base has the name of those who passed away in the bombing. Much like a cemetery, some chairs had flowers or other small items resting on them. The perimeter of the field is set to match the outline of the Murrah building, lined by granite that came from Murrah plaza.
After the bombing, a chain link fence was installed in order to protect the site of the tragedy. As so often happens, people came to visit the site immediately, and some began to leave their own small memorials along the fence line. About 200 feet of the fence were permanently moved to the north side of the memorial, and today people still leave their small tributes on the fence. Over 60,000 items have been left over the years, and some have been integrated into programs from the museum, while others have been preserved in the archives.
Right outside the entrance to the actual museum is the Children's area. After the bombing, children from all over North America sent in hand-painted tiles with their messages of caring. Over 5,000 of these tiles were received, and now a number of them were built into the wall of the Children's Area. This serves as inspiration to the young visitors of today, who are encouraged to leave chalk messages in the sidewalks of this part of the memorial.
(* The date is wrong on these photos; we were actually there August 16, 2010.) This is the third visit Brenda and I have made to the Memorial, always poignant, sobering, and heart-wrenching.
For the first time we had our son, Zachary, with us. Brenda suggested we take time to go through the museum, which we had never before done. Zach was reluctant at first. I believe he had the natural tendency of a 16-year-old to want to head down the road and do "something FUN!" instead of having to go through some old boring museum. I know he soon changed his mind however and was as affected as either of us. Anyhow, as parents we agreed this would be a great learning experience for Zach to help him understand that history is real life experienced by real people, not just dust in a book. We wanted to experience it ourselves as well. And we DID...in spades.
One of the things I particularly appreciate about this remarkable presentation is that it almost exclusively focuses on the victims, the innocent, the personal and community responses, selflessness and bravery, the natural goodness of people. There is very little mention of the twisted perpetrators who conceived this act of monstrous madness.
It's irrelevant that photography is not allowed in the museum...the images are seared indelibly on the heart and soul and mind.
I can say this is an essential experience. All the heartache and compassion you feel on a visit to the Memorial pale in comparison to the immediate intimate power of the Museum. Whatever you do, do not miss this under any circumstances.
As we were leaving a docent asked me, "What'd you think?" I could not find the words. He offered "Intense?" "Yes," I told him, but that was not the word I was searching for. It was weeks later that it came to me. The word - for me - was "horrific!"
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.
No visit to Oklahoma City is complete without stopping here to visit, learn and pay respects to those who lost their lives here. I was able to easily walk from the Botanical Gardens to the site.
The memorial is beautiful and very moving. The former plaza that stood in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building is still there, and leads you to the memorial where you enter from one of two building shaped gates facing each other on opposite sides of a reflecting pool. Beside the reflecting pool are individual memorial monuments - empty chairs with the names of those who died. There is the Survivor Tree -- made famous by Kirtsen Dunst in the film "Elizabethtown", and then there are the chain link fences -- covered in presonal memorials from those who have visited the site.
Once past the memorial, there is a museum which I highly recommend visiting. There is an entrance fee, but it's fairly nominal. The museum takes you through the day of the blast, step by step. There are survivors stories, victims stories, rubble and office equipment still in the condition it was in after the cleanup, and much more. It's definately an experience I recommend when visiting Oklahoma City.
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.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial in downton Oklahoma City is a stirring tribute to the 168 victims of the 1995 terrorist bombing. It is free (the museum costs $8.00) and parking along the rode won't cost you anything on the weekend. Like 9-11, the events in OKC changed our country's identity and this monument is a fitting tribute to those who died that day. Take the time to leave a note on the fence outside the memorial.
This is built on the site of the government building that was blown up by a crazy sick guy, called McVeigh.
It is surprisingly creative and solemn - not an expected plaque or statue. It is in fact very impressive.
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!"