Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road trip 2 - A Moment of Silence for those We've Lost

from: 620 N Harvey Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102, USA

Not counting the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, what is the worst act of terrorism committed within American borders? Maybe Waco comes to mind. Or the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Or the DC sniper. Those were terrible events, but the Oklahoma City bombing, which took place in 1995, is what I'm talking about.

As a truck driver, I've been through OKC many times, and been across the state of Oklahoma even more. The roads through the state are designed such that you almost can't pass through Oklahoma without also going through its capital.

There's a lot to see in these pictures; take your time as you look at them.
On the morning of April 19, 1995, a pair of soulless men filled a truck with fertilizer and other explosives. One of them drove it to the front of the Murrah Federal Building, a nine-story multipurpose high rise in the heart of the city. He parked the van, fuses already lit, and walked away. A few minutes later, at 9:02 AM, a large explosion devestated the building and the parking lot across the street. At least 168 people died, including 19 children in the daycare center, and 680 more were injured. Within a 16 block radius, 324 buildings were damaged and 86 cars were destroyed. The bomb had to be enormous to cause so much damage; it was equivalent to 5000 pounds of TNT, or 1/4 the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

After clearing away the rubble, a memorial park was created, encompassing the entire area around the blast and the former location of the building. As you drive down the street, it suddenly ends at a park. There used to be a street there, but it's now a reflecting pool. On one side, where the Murrah building was, is arrayed 168 chairs, most of them adult-sized, but many of them much smaller. There is a chair for every person who died that day. The small chairs are for the children who perished.

To read that here might not impact you much, but to see it up close is powerful. It really moved me, brought the event home for me. Before that moment, it was some distant thing that happened to someone who may as well have been in another country. When it happened, I'd never been anywhere near Oklahoma and had only nominal ambition ever to go. But after that moment, I really wanted to stay there for a while, read everything there was to read, see the memorial museum, and learn the story behind not just the attack, but also the rebuilding and the people whose lives were impacted by it all.

Unfortunately, we didn't get there until late. The park itself is open 24 hours, but the museum closes at 6:00, and we were a few minutes too late, after having driven all the way from Jackson. I would've liked to come back in the morning, but we had to get to Colorado Springs the next day, which I'll tell you about next week.

In the meantime, I've posted several additional pictures of my time at the Oklahoma City National Memorial on the More in Sanity Facebook page.

Lots more coming up; see you again soon!


Last Week's Installment: Road trip 1 - Who Shot JR


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