Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Twelve years ago today, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P.Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. 168 people died as a result of his act of terrorism. In place of the building, a memorial park now stands. 5th Ave., where the rental truck exploded, is covered by a shallow reflecting pool of water. Out of ashes came beauty.

168 empty chairs are laid out in nine rows. Each chair was cast individually and the name of a victim of the bombing was cast in each seat. The nine rows stand for the nine floors of the Murrah building.

Granite monuments guard each end of the memorial park. One is engaved with the time 9:01; the other with 9:03. The time inbetween, 9:02, marks the minute the bomb went off and changed everything for the people in the Murrah building, Oklahoma City, and America. It was the first act of domestic terrorism that we had ever known.

The chainlink fence that was erected in the days after the bombing became a place of tributes laid to the victims. It was decided to make a section of this fence a permanent part of the memorial.

These photos and notes brough tears to my eyes.

The purpose of this national memorial is engraved on the outside of each of the two monument gates. It says, "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."

Ironically, the day of our visit here was the same day of the massacre at Virginia Tech. And we felt the impact of violence again.

St Joseph's Church, across the street, was heavily damaged in the bombing. The church erected this statue of Jesus, with his back turned away from the bomb site, with the inscription, "And Jesus Wept." And so Camille and Ed did the same.

But this Dutch elm tree, although damaged, somehow lived through the shaking. Over 100 years old, it is now called "The Survivor Tree". It still stands, overlooking the memorial park as a symbol of hope.

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