Welcome 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.
<Words inscribed on the gates of the Oklahoma City National Memorial>
We experience many moments on our travels, but some are forever etched in our memories.
Driving across the country a few years ago, at the height of summer, I stopped at the outdoor site of The Oklahoma City National Memorial. I will never forget entering through its large bronze gates and feeling as if time had stopped. I’d been surrounded in stillness; all I did was observe and absorb. That day, I learned more about the world, about compassion, about humanity, and about the impact of our actions.
The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial is a place of quiet reflection that also tells a powerful story of what happened on April 19, 1995 — it honours the victims, survivors, rescuers, families and others affected by the bombing attack.
For those who are not familiar with, or those who haven’t been able to visit The Oklahoma City National Memorial, I hope this post will give you some sense of the space and its impact.
Identical bronze gates freeze frame the moments of destruction: The East Gate represents 9:01 a.m., and the West Gate 9:03 a.m.
The central pool encourages peaceful contemplation. Stylistically, it acts as a mirror for those who choose to look into it, changed by the experience.
One hundred and sixty eight chairs made of bronze, stone, and glass each represent one life lost. Positioned on the footprint of the destroyed Murrah Building, each glass base bears the inscription of a taken person’s name.
An American Elm, badly damaged in the attack, was rescued. Called the Survivor Tree, it provides ample shade. A grove of Oklahoma redbuds (the state tree), elm and maple trees, planted in honour of those who rushed to provide aid after the bombing, surrounds the Survivor Tree. An inscription around the deck wall (not shown) encircling the Survivor Tree facing the orchard reads:
To the courageous and caring who responded from near and far, we offer our eternal gratitude, as a thank you to the thousands of rescuers and volunteers who helped.
On the east end of the Memorial stand the Murrah Building’s only remaining walls. More than 600 names are inscribed on salvaged pieces of granite from its lobby (not shown).
A corrugated fence by the Murrah Building site had served as the first memorial, and was covered in poems, key chains, car tags, and stuffed toys. A section of the fence has been preserved and is now part of the permanent memorial.
Children from around the country and the world painted tiles with expressions of encouragement and love.
For more information, visit: Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum – Official Website.