Oklahoma City is a fine little city. Although it is most often used as a stopover for other places, there is one thing that anyone passing through absolutely needs to see: the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The memorial is absolutely breathtaking, and commemorates what was the most destructive act of terrorism in the US prior to 9-11.
On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City was bombed, taking the lives of 168 people, including 19 children. Today the outdoor memorial is a place of reflection for the victims, survivors, rescuers and families of those affected by the bombing. Walk around, say a little prayer for the families, and take in the immensity of what happened; however, don’t forget that the Oklahoma City National Memorial wants its visitors to believe hope can survive and blossom amidst tragedy.
The memorial is framed by two gates, one which says 9:01, the other which says 9:03 (as displayed in the picture). These gates frame the moment of destruction, which occurred at 9:02. It is a vivid illustration of the innocence of the city before the bombing, and the change that resulted after the bombing.
The 168 empty chairs represent the 168 lives lost in the bombing. They are arranged in nine rows to represent the nine floors of the building, with the name of the victim engraved on each chair.
The Survivor Tree is an American Elm that witnessed the bombing in April of ’95 and still stands as a living symbol of resilience.
The reflection pool (the Memorial Museum is displayed here as well) symbolizes peace, reflection and restoration for those who visit. It occupies the space that was once N.W. Fifth Street.
We were extremely moved by the Memorial–by the tremendous impact of the bombing as well as the hope and resilience of Oklahoma City and the United States. The Memorial itself sums it all up: 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.