We visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial this morning. This is a place I never thought I’d see but always kept on my list of sites to visit, just in case.
The memorial consists of a reflecting pool shouldered on one side by chairs, representing each of the 168 people who died in the April 19, 1995 blast that blew off a side of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The smaller chairs are for the 19 children who were killed when the explosion went off directly outside the building’s daycare. The site is flanked by two large entrance beams engraved with 9:01 and 9:03, signifying the before and the after. Oklahoma City, and the nation, would never be the same.
Some of the structures surrounding the blast site were damaged, as well. The Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum is housed in what used to the home of the Oklahoma City Journal Record, the city’s major newspaper. The museum was rehabbed to make the building safe and structurally sound, however there is visual evidence of the blast damage that was inflicted upon the walls that once faced the Alfred P. Murrah building. Also kept as part of the original structure is a message painted on the wall by one of the rescuers.
The Survivor Tree is an American Elm, at least 90 years old. The tree sustained significant damage from the blast but amazingly continued to thrive. A message surrounding the tree reads: The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.