Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Today we went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Although I'm going to a post tonight or tomorrow about our whole day, I feel the need to do a special post specifically about this memorial. I'm not sure why it's taken us this long to go visit, but as Noni said today, "That place had quite an impact on me."

We had been living in Edmond probably a month or two when I was walking around UCO campus one afternoon, and was admiring a particularly nice garden. I started reading the plaques set around the grounds, and realized that I was in a memorial garden honoring the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing from 1995. I never really put it all together to realize that I was living within minutes of where that bombing took place. It was sobering and sad. I've developed a love for the midwest, and the people of Oklahoma in particular. Even though OKC is a big metropolis, it doesn't feel "big city" like LA, NYC, or Washington DC. You don't really expect bad things to happen here. But on April 19, 1995 something very bad did happen: the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

Part of the original building is still standing. You can see the shattered edges with rebar sticking out.

There are 168 empty chairs on a grassy field - one for each victim that died in the bombing. The chairs are in 9 rows - each row representing one floor of the building. The chairs are placed on specific rows depending on which floor the victim was on when he/she died. Partway around the field, I noticed that there were also many smaller chairs in the rows - representing the children that died.

There's a wall made up of some of the ceramic plaques sent in by the many children that participated in the recovery effort.

There were several of these that really brought it home what a heart-wrenching tragedy this was for the children of Oklahoma.

Some of the original "memorial wall" has been left with many items left over the years - pictures, crosses, wreaths, etc. Olivia even added her hairbow to the memorial.

I can't say enough how much this visit impacted me. I haven't had to explain tragedy like this to my kids before, and it really brings home the senseless nature of terrorism. The victims are most often the innocent. I know the scriptures tell us that things will get worse before they get better, but I hope that there aren't too many more occasions like this that will cause the nation to weep.


Anonymous said...

Reading your post was sobering, and yet I felt a bit of an uplift too. Why? Because of the outpouring of public contributions and because of the picture of the children with their grandmother. I know how much she's been looking forward to seeing you all, and I'm thinking she's in "hog heaven."

Amberdawn said...

When we took my parents there, we wished we had a few more hours, we didn't get to take it all in slowly like we would have liked. The chain link fence gets cleaned off sometimes,I think. When I went 6 years ago there was a lot more stuff on it.