We left McNabb on a Monday. We went to Galesburg and visited my brother and sister in law. We stopped and bought KFC and brought it their home and visited. We then proceeded through Iowa, and down to Missouri and visited our friends Cici and Larry in Excelsior Springs. We had a really nice visit and took off heading south. We discovered late afternoon we had a power steering leak about 100 miles out of Oklahoma City. We slept at a Rest Area, in the morning we unhooked the pickup and drove to the nearest truck stop and bought some to put in. We headed into Oklahoma City and after several phone calls and stops we finally got an appointment for the following Monday….This was Wednesday……So many shops didn’t work on power steering, and another didn’t have tall enough bays. We could have kept looking, but we decided to make a little vacation out of it. We found a campground near by and settled in. We had lots of nice shade, a picnic table, and near all the shopping and sites to see. We decided to go see the Oklahoma City National Memorial. We have seen it twice before but it never gets old. The first time was when it was just being built back around 2000. It was only in the very early stages and the reflecting pond and grassy areas was nothing but red red clay. We seen it completed years later but never went into the museum. So this was a must this time.
On the Morning of April 19, 1995 a truck-bomb exploded outside the Alfred P Murrah Building in down town Oklahoma City, left 168 people dead and destroyed one-third of the building. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 car. At that moment of 9:02, it changed the lives of many in Oklahoma City and through out the nation and world also. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols constructed a homemade bomb concealed in a rental truck. McVeigh motivated by his dislike for the U.S. federal government and angry about its handling of the Ruby Ridge incident in 1992 and the Waco siege in 1993, McVeigh timed his attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the deadly fire that ended the siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Ironically McVeigh was stopped for no license plate only 90 minutes after the bomb went off. He was arrested for illegal weapons possession. With in several days forensic evidence quickly linked McVeigh and Nichols to the attack; Nichols was arrested, and both were charged. They were both tried and convicted in 1997. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison in 2004. These are just the highlights of the story. It is a very heart wrenching story, but again, another story we must never forget. Plans were made for this memorial to commemorate all the victims of this needless tragedy and those who survived and changed their lives forever. This is something that all must see if ever going through Oklahoma City. It is very easy to get to. So this is what you will see…….
Upon walking up to the gate, you will see the original chain link fence constructed to keep everyone out as the debris was cleaned up. In this fence everyone started bringing flowers, mementos, stuffed animals and remembrances of the victims. It was stuffed full. The items are periodically removed and catalogued……and as you see it continues today…..
This was one that drew my attention…..Chase Dalton Smith 3, and his brother, Colten Wade Smith 2. They were the only children of their parents. They were dropped off at the Day Care Center on the second floor. They were both killed along with a total of 19 children in the Day Care which was at the front of the building. Their were 4 infant cribs in front of the windows with the youngest being 6 months. The oldest in the Day Care was 5. 3 teachers also lost their lives.
This is the gate or wall as you walk up and enter the Memorial. This was actually a street before that went in front of the Alfred P Murrah Building.
This Beautiful Reflecting Pond is what you see as you go through the door way. As you look around, it is such a feeling of powerful tranquility. Everything you see has a meaning. The pond was the original street where the Ryder truck was parked and detonated. Above the wall behind me at the top is etched “9:01”.
On the other wall at the end of the pond above the opening is etched “9:03”. They represent the calm before, and the moment the healing began. 9:02 was the moment of terror and murder.
As you look to the right, You see all the beautiful glass chairs. Their are 168 chairs with 19 of them being of small size for the children. They are arranged on top of where the Murrah building stood in 9 rows to commemorate the nine stories of the building. Each chair corresponds to the floor each person worked on or was visiting. The Day Care was on the Second Floor.
Here I found Chase and Colten’s chairs. To see this it definitely tugs at the core of your heart. Why can anyone do such a thing. Kill innocent children.
At nite these chairs are all lite up. This site of open 24 hours a day for people to enter onto sacred ground for quite reflection. Each chair has a persons name on it and people will leave flowers or memorials to different ones.
One the other side of the pond is a large building that withstood the bombing. It was the former Journal Record Building. Right in front is the only tree that with stood the blast. It is a 40 foot tall Elm tree that was located across from the parking lot of the Murrah Building. The bomb scorched the tree badly. It left glass and shrapnel stuck in its bark. A hood from one of the cars that blew up was found burning in the crown of the tree. It is now called the Survivors Tree. Owners of landscape nurseries, arborists, urban foresters and expert horticulturists from across the state and country have come together to work and preserve this piece of history. Every year seeds are collected and given to the Nurseries. They plant the seeds and distribute the resulting saplings each year on the anniversary of the bombing. Today, thousands of Survivor Trees are growing in public and private places all over the United States.
After we walked up to the Survivors Tree, we went on to the front of the actual Memorial Museum.
This was the Journal Records building at the time of the bombing. All the windows were blown out but it structurally withstood the blast. In the front you will see many tiles designed by children all over the United States. They carefully chose and installed these tiles in the front. The rest of the tiles have been carefully saved for the future. On the walkway is some chalk board areas that were installed for the children to draw or write messages. Up on entering and purchasing your ticket, they have you take the elevator to the 4th floor. You then work your way down. Their are so many items and information saved. Many recordings of survivors, emergency responders, and news people. The one that really stood out was a room that we entered and we all took a seat. Across from us was a wall of windows that were solid. We thought we were going to see a movie. In this room was the City Water Dept. holding a hearing about an issue. It was recorded and started promptly at 9am. As you sat their those 2 minutes seemed an eternity as the hearing progressed. Nothing happened in the window screen area. All of a sudden, the bomb went off. It was huge and massive. You could hear the chaos, the screaming and the running of the people.
In that instant of the bomb, the window screens before us lite up with the pictures of the 168 people who were killed in the bombing.
It was a moment of shock. It was hard to comprehend the immensity of it all. This is the only recording of the actual bombing. Finally we walked out of the room and walked on. So many displays.
This showed a door that had been blown and some other debris.
This picture is of the men’s bathroom that was walled off with windows so we can see in. You can see the men’s urinals on the wall and the plumbing. Such Violent forces.
We finally moved down to the floors where they talked about the investigation. These were automobile parts found blown up. The wheel hub actually belonged to the Ryder truck that Timothy McVeigh had rented. Because of it and another piece they were able to check serial numbers and immediately find out that the truck had been rented to McVeigh. It didn’t take much for them to put the pieces together. He had been stopped because he didn’t have a license on his car.
This was his car, 1977 Mercury Marquis, that he had just bought as his had broken down. He was stopped just 90 minutes after the bombing. The Oklahoma State Policeman found he had a gun.
He was then arrested for Illegal Weapons Possession. The Authorities put it all together in 3 days and found him still in jail on this unrelated charge. He was never remorseful of what he had done. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at 7:14 a.m. on June 11, 2001, at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. Terry Nichols was given Life in prison in 2004. Their was 2 other accomplices, Michael and Lori Fortier testified against McVeigh and Nichols; Michael was sentenced to 12 years in prison for failing to warn the United States government, and Lori received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. Finally we walked out the door. It was definitely a heart wrenching experience to think that anyone could do such a terrorist attack, especially an American. How could anyone kill all those innocent children. Oklahoma City will forever be changed as they honor all the victims and all the people that has helped with the healing process. They have all been made stronger. It is hard to believe it has been 22 years already. And they still come and leave mementos in the fence…..So if your ever in the area, Please take the time to visit…….
After that we went to the stockyards to a steakhouse restaurant. We weren’t really impressed….lol…So home we went…..Another adventure was planned for the next day….
Oklahoma State Capital Tour.