A Place of Hope and Memories

Arriving in Oklahoma City, I finally got off I-40 onto exit 149, turning left on S. Western Avenue.  I stayed on the street until I turned right onto North Hudson street, looking for a parking spot when I turned right onto NW 6th street.  I found it.  I was parked pretty close to the National Memorial.  The parking meter was next to my rental car.  Perfect!  I hopped off and ready to pay the meter but this woman with a rather large build hurriedly slammed her body in the front of me and the meter from nowhere.  I went “what the f—! ”  I waited patiently while to my left,  her mother walked slowly with the walker.  I was thinking “OK, I will get there in the memorial with such a hurry.”  I left without waiting for my turn to pay the meter, with my faithful camera in hand.  I started clicking…clicking..

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The Oklahoma City bombing narrative weaves its way through small town America. On the morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a rental truck with explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and at 9:02 am, a massive explosion occurred which sheared the entire north side of the building, killing 168 people. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was a United States Government office building and it was named for federal judge Alfred P. Murrah, an Oklahoma native. The building contained regional offices for the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and other agencies. The investigation was complete which resulted in the execution of Timothy McVeigh and the sentence of life without parole for Terry Nichols, the surviving structure was demolished with explosives on May 23, 1995. The entire 3.3 acre site subsequently became home to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, a place to honor the victims, survivors and rescue workers, and to learn the impact of violence. By the way, the bomb damaged 347 buildings in the immediate area. Thirty buildings were heavily damaged and approximately 16 have since been torn down. Twenty blocks of downtown OKC had to be cordoned off due to the bomb’s extent.

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The tiles in the children’s area represent the thousands of cards, letters, and drawings sent to Oklahoma City from children all over the United States.

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The Fence was installed to protect the site of the Murrah Building. People began to leave tokens of love and hope on the Fence. Those items now total more than 60,000 and are collected and preserved in our archives. Today, more than 200 feet of the original Fence gives people the opportunity to leave tokens of remembrance and hope.

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“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. “

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The Reflecting Pool occupies what was once N.W. Fifth Street. It’s a shallow depth of gently flowing water helps soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. The placid surface shows the reflection of someone changed forever by their visit to the Memorial. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was located just south of the Reflecting Pool where the grass lawn of the Field of Empty Chairs now stands. The building stretched from the remaining walls in the east corner to the western edge of the Memorial. The nine story Murrah Federal Building occupied the block in bordered by NW 4th and 5th Streets between Robinson and Harvey Avenues.

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The Survivor Wall is on the east end of the Memorial stand the only remaining walls from the Murrah Building. These walls remind us of those who survived the terrorist attack, many with serious injuries. More than 600 names are inscribed on salvaged pieces of granite from the Murrah Building lobby. You can see jagged edges on the remaining walls.

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The Field of Empty Chairs represent 168 chairs that took the lives taken in the bombing. The chairs were hand-crafted from glass, bronze and stone with a name etched in the glass base of each. The chairs have been arranged in nine rows, which represent the nine floors of the Murrah Building. Each individual’s chair was placed on the row (or the floor) they worked on or were visiting when the bomb went off. Each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children. The field is located on the footprint of the Murrah Building. The five chairs located in the western most column represent the five people killed who were not in the building at the time of the bombing.

I learned that when the sky gets dark,  the chairs light up becoming, in the words of the Memorial’s designers, 168 beacons of hope.   I missed the opportunity.  I hope I will return back and get a look at the chairs light up beautifully that I can imagine. 

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See the huge tree over there across the pool? That is The Survivor Tree.  This tree is an important symbol of the OKC National Memorial.  The American elm is about 100 years old.  The tree survived the explosion and represents human resilience. The circular promontory surrounding the tree offers a place for gathering and viewing the Memorial. The East Gate (on the right side)  represents 9:01 a.m. on April 19, and the innocence of the city before the attack.

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Gates of Time –The West Gate represents 9:03 a.m., the moment we were changed forever, and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing. These monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 a.m. – and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial.

It took me about 45 minutes to look around, taking time to see things.  I didn’t want to go to the museum because it is still too much to remember what happened to them.  I watched news on TV, read newspapers (before social media showed up online), and things what happened really overwhelmed me.

I ran to my rental car and I hadn’t gotten a ticket. Whewwww!  I wish I could find this woman to suck it up because she paid for it!  I left for Irving to catch the Mustangs of Los Cabinos before dark.

Before I move on for the Mustangs…there is one more thing….when I edited these pictures at home, the chair with a teddy bear on the top caught my eye and I had to get a close-up to see the name etched on the glass.

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I was surprised it was Baylee Almon!  I remember her.  She was all over the news, sadly, she passed away from her injuries.  The firefighter held her in his arms, face looking at her face, her body limp.  My heart ached for her.  Her life was short-lived because of the terrorists’ hands, being selfish and cold.  She should have been 20 years old today if she was alive.

I wish I did a panorama of the Gates of Time.  I didn’t think of doing it.  My mind was all about not getting a ticket.  Well, there is always next time…..

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About christy

I'm a freelance photographer. I love creating visual eye candy, be it my digital artwork or photography. More often than not, it turns out to be a combination of both. Whatever catches my eye, I shoot, specializing in landscapes, sports and portraits." Hailed from the Texas-born Baton Rouge, Louisiana residence, my photography was always my hobby, off and on, when time permitted. I had itched for a big change. I bought my first DSLR camera, I found myself falling back into photography again, and I've decided to pursue it full-time. I am specializing in landscapes however my interests are in the horizon into family portraits, senior portraits, sports, events and whatever catches my eye, I shoot.
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