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My visit to the outdoor area of the Oklahoma City National Memorial site

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Looking through the branches of the "Survivor Tree" at the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum. (4/18/19)
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Tomorrow is the 24th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, a day that forever changed life here in Oklahoma and in America.

While I visited the memorial site once, with my Cub Scouts troop, I had never walked the outdoors area of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which has a reflecting pool, the monolithic “Gates of Time” entrances and the American elm tree that survived the bombing – now known as the Survivor Tree.

It seems like a very sacred place. You feel it when you are walking amidst the chairs, pines, past the reflecting pool and knowing what tragic event had taken place here long before I was born. I did learn that the judge the federal building had been named for was one of the people featured at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, which I visited last week.

My first thoughts were - on this cool and windy spring day – that there was a lot I did not know about the place, but I came away with a lot of knowledge about what happened that day in April 1995.

Entering from Harvey Street, the time was 9:03 on the western “Gates of Time” wall. On the eastern side – across the wide reflecting pool – it read 9:01. That meant the bomb went off, killing 168 men, women and children, at 9:02.

I didn’t realize how many people had died until I saw the chairs in the “Field of Empty Chairs” which I learned represent the empty chairs at kitchen tables in all of those homes who lost loved ones that day. It made me really sad to think about it.

I drew some conclusions as to what happened: I was told a man Timothy McVeigh drove a yellow rental truck up to the front of the building and set off a bomb outside, causing lots of damage to the building, injuring and killing all of those innocent people.

On my way out, I saw a white rental truck, which was weird. And then I saw a yellow rental truck (Penske, not Ryder), similar to the one involved in the bombing, like the Ryder truck Timothy McVeigh drove.

The Red Dirt Report editor, Andrew Griffin, told the people that it was “eerie” seeing a similar type-truck outside the memorial, similar to McVeigh’s yellow rental truck.

On the fence along the sidewalk, outside the memorial, I saw all of the trinkets people had left as gifts for those who had lost their lives here. All in all it was very sad and moving and on my next visit I hope to go inside and learn more in the museum. 

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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