by Jim and Melanie
We recently visited Oklahoma where our son is a pilot in training with the Air Force. On one of the days, we drove to Oklahoma City to visit the National Memorial to the 168 victims of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. The bombing took place on April 19, 1995. The glass-fronted building formerly stood nine stories tall, faced north and aligned with NW 5th Street. Just before 9:00 that morning, a rental truck was parked by the bomber directly in front. He set a fuse and departed for safety and his getaway car parked nearby. At 9:02 the blast tore a gaping hole in the front of the building, killing 168 adults and children. Through a series of fortuitous events, he was arrested within two hours along I-35 north of the city for having no license plates. Evidence led to his conviction of the bombing.
The scene today is peaceful. It honors those who died and those who worked tirelessly to rescue the victims. The memorial had several beautiful parts honoring those people and the family, friends, and community members whose lives were changed in an instant.
The satellite view below gives an overall perspective. North is toward the top. The blue rectangle is the footprint of the original building. The street originally crossing in front of the building location has been closed. There are many small dark objects aligned in rows within the blue rectangle. Those are chairs honoring each of the victims in their last know location by floor.
We entered the site from the intersection at the right in the image above. This large wall and inscription greeted us. By stepping through the doorway, we viewed the reflecting pool and a similar wall at the other end.
Immediately to our right was a group of visitors. A park service ranger had just started describing to them the features of the memorial. We stayed nearby and listened to his story. He took time to explain the rationale for each part of the site design. He told of the timeline of events leading up to the bombing and the quick apprehension of the bomber within hours after. At no point did the ranger mention the bomber’s name. This memorial is not for him. It is for the victims and those whose lives were changed so suddenly.
Larger views of each image are available by clicking this gallery. Three of the wider panoramic images can be viewed full-sized by clicking a View Full Size link to the lower right of their screen.
The reflecting pool reflects us and our surroundings. In this place now, there is beauty, peace, and hope. We see the damage left by the bomb, but we remember that good people outnumber bad, that regrowth occurs when we are patient, and that peace is possible.