12 years ago yesterday, April 19th, our nation was devastated and saddened by the senseless bombing in Oklahoma City. My sister-in-law and I visited the Memorial in December and it was sad, awkward and horrific yet reflective and peaceful, also.
As I'm starting to write this, I'm struggling with my words because of the events that happened in Virginia this week. Hoping not to make any wounds deeper, but wanting to share my experience at the Oklahoma City Memorial. So in an effort to remember the people lost 12 years ago as well as those lost this week, I'll continue with my experience.
This reflecting pool was built on the street that fronted the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. There are identical gates at either end of the pool with 9:01 and 9:03 inscribed that represent the time immediately before and after the explosion. It's always awkward seeing yourself in reflecting pools such as this. It brings to home those thoughts that "It could have been me".
On the north side of the reflecting pool stands a solitary American Elm tree known at the Survivor Tree because in the face of the explosion, the tree survived. There's a lot of symbolism in this tree - Strength and Hope at the forefront.
The Field Of Empty Chairs
The saddest and most moving area of the Memorial was The Field of Empty Chairs. There are a total of 168 Empty Chairs on this field where the federal building once stood. There are a total of 9 rows of chairs, representing the 9 floors of the former building. Each person's chair is positioned in the row that corresponds to the floor where they worked or were visiting. There are also 5 Empty Chairs that honor those who were killed outside of the federal building. Each persons name is inscribed on his chair. Yes, there are smaller chairs, too.
Just outside the Memorial Gate is this statue.
Written on both gates and inside the memorial museum:
"We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."