Wednesday, July 29, 2009

April 19, 1995

When I think back to that day, I think of being a typical 12 year old who is gossiping on the telephone with her best friend about how "all this news coverage is interrupting my TV shows". At 12, I did not fully understand the magnitude of what it meant and what consequences (both the negative and positive) arose from that moment at 9:02am.

I was in Oklahoma City for work this week, and being that I work for the U.S. Courts, I was across the street from the Memorial site. Being the gracious hosts that Oklahomans are, my contact in the District Court gave us a personal tour of the Memorial site as well as private areas that are not preview to the public.

After my personal tour and visit to the museum (Oklahoma City National Monument & Museum) I could start to grasp the weight of what happened. As a 26 year old, I could now relate the images I saw from September 11th to the images of April 19th. A federal building was targeted by terrorists that had no regard for human life - especially those of the children in the day care center located on the second floor. One hundred and sixty-eight people died because from the bombing. The Museum & Memorial is organized as a time line of events, relating how the day began and how the weeks, and years, that have followed continue for the residents of Oklahoma City.

What has impacted me the most is that there are over 1,200 survivors, less than 700 are listed on the Survivors Wall - granite salvaged from the Alfred P. Murrah building. Of those names, there are names I see everyday at work. These are individuals whom I never considered to be affected.

Overall, I have a greater appreciation for the human spirit in times that seem utterly hopeless. I encourage you to, at the very least visit the Memorial & Museum website. If your travels take you to Oklahoma City, take the time to visit the site and find, in the human spirit, what I have.

Below, I have included some pictures of the Memorial:

This is the end gate of Fifth Street. This is when Oklahoma City showed all that is good in the human spirit. The space between the gates represents the moment in time: April 19, 1995, 9:02am.

This is towards 9:01am gate. To the right is the Field of Empty Chairs.

The small grassy area on the Alfred P. Murrah Building Plaza was the playground for the day care center.

The Field of Empty Chairs. The smaller chairs represent the children that died. The placement of the chair is indicative to where in the building the victim was at the time of the explosion. The glass cubes are etched with the victims' names.

The Field of Empty Chairs towards the 9:01am gate. The American Elm tree in the far background as originally in the parking lot next to the Murrah Building. It withstood the brunt of the blast, but has, miraculously, survived. The American Elm has become the symbol of the survivors and the Memorial itself.

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