Posted by: Mary | September 23, 2012

Oklahoma City Never Made My Bucket List, But….

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial 9:01 Gate

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial 9:01 Gate

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial 9:03 Gate

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial 9:03 Gate

I never thought that Oklahoma City was Bucket list-worthy for me, but had a business trip out there for two days last week.  On our first day, we finished early enough to make it out to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum before dinner.  We had about an hour and 20 minutes, which was just a little too short.  I’d suggest allowing an hour and a half.  We started our visit at the outdoor memorial, with a reflection pool flanked by two gates – the 9:01 gate and the 9:03 gate – which mark the moment of destruction at the site.  It was at 9:02am on April 19, 1995 that Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, ultimately killing 168 people and injuring over 800 more.

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial - Field of Empty Chairs

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial – Field of Empty Chairs

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial Survivor's Tree

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial Survivor’s Tree

Along one side of the memorial is the Field of Empty Chairs, 168 chairs representing each person who died in the attack.  They are arranged by the floor on which the person was located, with smaller chairs representing the 19 children from the daycare center who were among those who perished.  On the other side is the Survivor’s Tree, which survived the attack.  On the east end next to the gate is the Survivor’s Wall, the only portion of the original building wall that still stands today.  Along the outside is a Fence where people can leave tokens of remembrance.  They are collected periodically and stored in the museum’s archive.  It is a moving display that memorialize those who lost their lives on that day in 1995.

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial Fence

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial Fence

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial Survivor's Wall

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial Survivor’s Wall

Inside the museum, the story of the bombing is told, including the police investigation and ultimate conviction of Timothy McVeigh.  Early on, you walk into a room where you listen to the actual recording of the Water Board meeting that started at 9:00am on April 19th, 1995.  Two minutes into the recording, you hear the explosion and then move into the remainder of the exhibit.  There are items that were recovered from the wreckage, as well as photographs and descriptions recounting what happened during the rescue efforts and in the ensuing investigation and trial.  There is also a room with photos of each victim, along with items chosen by their families to represent their lives or their personalities.  In addition to the photographs, there are also videos, including news coverage and interviews from 1995.

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial and Museum

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial and Museum

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial and Museum

Oklahoma City Federal Memorial and Museum

The exhibit is moving and brought tears to the eyes of several in our group.  It is well worth the visit and is an important reminder of what happened on that fateful day in April 1995.  While this single memorial did not put Oklahoma City on my bucket list, it was well worth the visit and I’d highly encourage anyone planning to visit the Oklahoma City area to make time for a visit.  In addition, Oklahoma City has a nice downtown area called Bricktown, with a small river walk, some good restaurants, bars, shopping, and hotels.  There’s also a free trolley that takes you from the memorial to the Bricktown area.

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Responses

  1. Nice post, Mary! Don’t you think the museum was a bit heavy on the ideas of terrorism, especially at the end?

    • Perhaps, but considering the tragedy that took place here, I can understand why. Overall, I think they did a good job at retelling the story. For those who may visit and were not here in the U.S. at the time or aren’t old enough to remember when this happened, I think they did a great job at presenting the story of what happened on the day of the bombing and the ensuing investigation and trial.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  2. Mary, I very much enjoyed this post. It is the first time I’ve seen pictures of the museum. If I am back in that part of the country, I will definitely make a visit. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by to read my blog. I took a lot of photos in the museum, but didn’t post most of them. There’s a lot to see. It really is worth the visit if you’re in that part of the country.


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