As I promised in a previous post regarding the Oklahoma City National Memorial, here are a few thoughts during my visit.

The day was very cold — about 25F degrees. This was to be a quick side trip on our journey to Kentucky. I already felt that I was not giving enough time this memorial deserved but that is sometimes the way life is. I still wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.

(To give you background, I am the type that like to take these types of things in in entirety. I will ready every little placard, every little sign, every brochure so I can learn as much as I can about what is around me. My wife — and the kids — are opposite and want to see it and then, ok, we’re done. Remember Chevy Chase in Vacation where they make this long journey to the Grand Canyon, take a quick look, and then say, “Ok, that’s it. Let’s go.” — or something like that. That is definitely not me.)

The memorial takes up about 2 city blocks where the Murrah building used to stand as well as the street in front of it and the parking lot that was across the street. You can approach the memorial from almost any direction. We came from the north east which gave us a good view of what we came to learn was Survivor Tree. This tree was in a parking lot across the street and survived the blast. It has become a symbol of resilience and hope. It is surrounded by a terrace that overlooks the site. It has a quote etched into the stone that says “The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated. Our deeply rooted faith sustains us.”. The tree is a symbol of that.

During our visit, one of the local nearby churches was piercing the regular city noise with “O, Come All Ye Faithful” from its church bells. It made for a poignant moment.

From east to west is a reflecting pond that sits where the street used to sit. Very peaceful and serene. The reflections of the scenery around it disappear into the black below. The east “gate” represents the 9:02 time before evil bombed the building. The west “gate” represents the 9:03 time when all the lives were changed forever.

Just south of the reflecting pond, where the Murrah building used to sit, is the lawn with chairs representing each of the 169 victims killed. Each has a name on it and is situated on a level where that person last was in the building. Smaller chairs represent the children that were taken — very sad. While it was daytime during our visit, you couldn’t really see the light in each chair. But I am sure during the night, it is an awesome scene.

There are quite a few more things in and around the site that demand description but I didn’t have the time to see them. There is also an indoor museum that would take a normal person about 2 hours to go through. Inside they honor all the victims — killed and injured. It is my intent to make a special day trip to the memorial, probably by myself, so I can take it all in. I have been to many memorials — Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson Mem, Vietnam Mem, WWII Mem among others — but this one was one of the best at describing what happened, how it affected the city and people and how they were honoring those moving forward releasing the bitterness and embracing hope for the future. Lots of symbolism and representation made for a very powerful display. The folks in New York City would benefit by getting a hold of those on the committee that birthed this memorial so they could pay proper tribute to those we lost on 9/11.

If you ever get through OK City, stop by. You will not regret it. Allow for several hours, but, as in my case, if you cannot, stop by for just a little while. Every minute spent there is worth it.

God bless all of those affected that day — April 19, 1995.

…..Dan at aslowerpace