On May 22nd Rhoda and I stopped in Oklahoma City. Walking up to the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial was hard because I clearly remember where I was on April 19th, 1995, when I heard the news that came across broadcasting stations about a bombing, and how the news shook me to my core.
The footprint of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and surrounding buildings in the area, on April 19th, 1995, are now the Field of Empty Chairs, Reflecting Pool, and Rescuers’ Orchard.
The Field of Empty Chairs is beautiful and heartbreaking, with 168 empty chairs representing the 168 killed. Nine rows represent the nine floors of the Federal Building. Each chair bears the name of someone killed on the floor. The nineteen smaller chairs represent the nine children killed that day.
The Memorial twin gates, the formal entrances, frame the moment of the explosion- 9:02 AM. The 9:01 gate represents the moment before the blast, and the 9:03 AM gate represents when the grieving and subsequent healing began.
The Reflecting Pool occupies what was once N.W. Fifth Street, and on the east end of the Memorial stands the only remaining wall from the Federal Building, where inscribed on salvaged pieces of granite from the Federal Building lobby are 600 names of the survivors.
The Survivor Tree is the only remaining tree that survived the blast, a symbol of resilience.
The Memorial Museum is an interactive learning experience that occupies the west end of the former Journal Record Building. The Museum offers self-guided tours through the stories of “those killed, survivors, and those changed forever” by April 19th, 1995.
If your travels ever carry you to or through Oklahoma City, you must see this touching tribute to the 168 men, women, children who died at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
To schedule your visit, go to Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum (memorialmuseum.com)