Sunday, April 16, 2017

Oklahoma City

For several  years it has been on my bucket list to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Heidi saw it when she had been to see it once when she was in Oklahoma City on business. She told me then that I must see it if I ever had the chance.

Driving back to Minnesota with my sister Janet, we planned our route so we could see this place. The day was a bit chilly and there was mist in the air as we drove up to the site. We parked the car and crossed the street to see this.

On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was the target of a massive bombing that killed 168 people, including 19 children under the age of 6 who were in daycare there. On this day, Timothy McVeigh pulled up to the front of the building in a Ryder rental truck that was filled with fertilizer and diesel fuel. He parked it in front of the building and left it there, taking off in a rental car. The truck exploded at 9:02 and destroyed a third of the building as well as doing damage to many surrounding buildings. Here are other photos of the memorial.

In between the two walls that show the time of the blast is a reflective pool with gently moving water meant to bring solace to family members of the deceased and other visitors. For each person that perished, there is a personalized chair. The base is glass that is illuminated at night. The chairs are arranged in 9 rows, depicting the floor on which the person was killed. This is a very peaceful place.

After the blast, a lone American Elm tree still stood. Many of its branches had been torn away and some thought the tree should be removed, but there were those that wanted it to stay—a survivor of sorts. In these past 22 years the branches have flourished and now it is a beautiful remnant of what was. It's interesting to me that a lone oak tree also remained after the terrorists rammed commercial jets into the World Trade Center Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001.


Next to this memorial is a wonderfully planned museum filled with memorabilia from the bombing site and rooms with news reports from that day and the days that followed. In one such room, we sat in a board room replica of the Oklahoma Water Resources office that was kitty/corner of the federal building. We heard the actual recording of a procedure that had commenced at 9 AM, a routine hearing of a farmer requesting to bottle water for commercial purposes from the spring that flowed on his farm. The person holding the meeting was giving the parameters that would be followed when all of a sudden, at exactly 9:02, there was a huge blast and all of us in the room were shaken. It was the actual sound heard when the bomb went off. They said the bomb was felt 15 miles away!

In another room in the museum, the front axle from the rental truck was displayed. This piece of evidence was crucial in the arrest of McVeigh since the VIN number on the axle matched that of the VIN number on the rental slip of the rental truck.

The room that really got to me was that in which each of the 168 who perished are pictured. In each glass window, there is a personal memento of that person. For one of the children, there was a beany baby. For some of the adults, there were Bibles. In the window of one of the men was his pair of glasses.

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