Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I hadn't planned on going to the Oklahoma City Memorial for two reasons: I usually shy away from driving through big cities with the Little House on the Highway and memorials such as this bother me. But I figured being so close I'd give it a go. Driving to the site in the middle of town wasn't bad at all and I found a nice free parking spot on a side street. I parked, told Sinbad I'd be back soon (he was sleeping anyway) and took off walking. I knew I was getting close when I came upon this fence.
This is the first fence erected to protect the site and has become a place for people to leave tokens of remembrance for the victims of the terrorist bombing on April 19, 1995. To date they have numbered over 60,000 of which many have been preserved in the archives of the museum.
This wall has a brick missing for each of the 168 people who died that morning.
The reflecting pool has a monumental gate at each end marking the formal entrance to the Memorial. The east gate has inscribed 9:01 representing the innocence of the city before the attack. The west gate 9:03, the moment we were changed forever.
I took the photo on the wrong side of each gate not knowing at the time what the numbers on the other sides meant.
The Field of Empty Chairs, 168 of them, one for each life lost. They are arranged in nine rows, one for each floor of the Federal Building and placed accordingly to the floor which those killed were working or visiting. Each bronze and stone chair rests on a glass base with the name of a victim. There were 19 smaller chairs for the 19 children killed.
This is the Survivor Tree, a 90+year old American Elm that stood in the middle of the asphalt parking lot and somehow survived the horrific blast of that morning. It now stands as a profound symbol of human resilience.
I then went inside the museum, stood at the counter to pay my admission and glanced inside where I saw a huge semi circular wall lined with large glass cubicles. Inside each cube was an 8x10 photo, smaller photos and personal artifacts family members have displayed in remembrance for their lost loved ones. Three children looked out at me from the first row. Two were barely a year old if that, the third a cute black preschooler girl with a happy smile on her face. I couldn't deal with it and turned to go leaving the museum behind.