Monday, April 6, 2015

Remembering - National Memorial and Museum


April 19, 1995 marked a day when the innocence of the American people was lost.  Until that day, it was unthinkable that an American could ever perpetrate an act of terror against another American.  Well, it happened and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum was built, not to recognize the individuals that committed this heinous act, but to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever.

The memorial does an excellent job of documenting the events prior to the bombing all the way through the conviction and imprisonment and execution of the parties responsible.  (I do not name them by name because I refuse to provide any publicity, however small my audience, to those capable of these actions.)  

One powerful exhibit was a reenactment of a water board meeting taking place in the building across the street at the time of the explosion.  The meeting was being recorded and you are taken into a "boardroom" and the recording is played.  It's like being there, with the lights going out, the room shaking and the mass confusion of people wondering what happened.

There are pieces of buildings, personal belongings, display boards and used equipment displayed, as well as videos throughout.  The other, extremely powerful display, is at the very end.  It is a room with the pictures of those killed, with personal items chosen by the families that represent those people.  It's very sad to see the hobbies, treasured items and meaningful mementos of these people and know that they were just like you and me, but their lives cut short by a senseless act of terrorism.  Especially hard were the babies whose lives were so short they were presented by only a pacifier or a rattle, not enough years to even be able to develop a personality.

Outside, the grounds are beautifully done.  The Alfred P. Murrah building was torn down, with the exception of a portion of the north and east walls, which display the names of the more 600 survivors.  The street between that building and the Journal Record building is now a reflecting pool surrounded by park-like grounds.  The walls at each end are marked with the times 9:01 and 9:03, representing the time of the blast and the time of the first moments of recovery.  And the tree on the grounds is called "The Survivor's Tree" and, although heavily damaged in the blast, is thought to be about 100 years old.
The field of chairs
The chairs are located on the land previously occupied by the building and are in nine rows to represent the nine floors damaged in the blast. The chairs have names on each and are placed according to the floor on which the person worked. 

The chairs are also placed according to the blast pattern, with the most chairs near the most damaged portion of the building.

Entrance to the museum.  While the outside memorial is free and open 24/7, you need to buy a ticket for the museum.

Fence surrounding the site, where people continue to leave tributes.

The only original walls remaining, with slabs of recovered granite listing survivor names.

The reflecting pool.  It consists of a very thin layer of water flowing across black granite.

Journal Record building directly across from the site.  This is where the museum is located.

I guess the thing that saddened me the most was the realization, for me anyway, that even though this was a horrendous event, it's been somewhat overshadowed by the events of September 11, 2001.  I know the two events have different origins, but I feel that we have become somewhat numbed by the many horrific events we have witnessed over the last few years.  I wish everyone could visit this memorial for the purpose stated by the museum...

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.

Until next time...

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