Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Saturday of the "Mini-Moon that Wasn't": The Oklahoma City National Memorial

We began our day with a visit to Petsmart. Okay, so actually, we began our day with a visit to Denny's but Petsmart was right around the corner. We bought a carrying bag for Sydney (can't have the little darlin' bruising his paw pads with all the walking we had in mind for the day!). We also bought him a new toy (as an apology for the torment we put him through the previous evening) and some Snausage treats (that he decided weren't worthy of him). Then we headed to Bricktown. Since we're such spring chickens, in the prime of our lives and as physically fit as any Olympic runners, we decided to walk the 347 blocks from the ballpark to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Yeah, okay. So maybe it wasn't really 347 blocks, but it sure felt that way by the time we arrived. I've got to tell you, though - all kidding aside - it was well worth the effort. I was amazed anew at the sense of serenity and respect I fell there. All of the adults, with the exception of 2 women who were chasing 3 or 4 young children all over the place, were quiet, respectful and somewhat subdued by the memorial. It's so beautifully done. The skyline of the memorial is dominated by what are called "The Gates of Time". These twin gates "frame" the moment of destruction - 9:02. The East Gate represents 9:01 on April 19th, 1995, marking the innocence of the city before the bombing. (Click on the pictures to enlarge)The West Gate represents 9:03, the moment we were all changed forever. According to their literature, it also represents the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the attack.In between the gates is the Reflecting Pool (see two pictures down for a better view of this). It occupies what was once N.W. 5th Street. The shallow depth of gently flowing water is intended to help soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. Visitors may see their own reflection, "a face of someone changed forever". Very, very touching. Next to the gates is the "Field of Empty Chairs". The 168 chairs stand as a reminder of each life lost, symbolizing the absence felt by family members and friends. The chairs are placed in nine rows, representing the nine floors of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The chairs are placed according to the floor on which those killed worked or were visiting. They're designed in two sizes, the smaller size representing the absence of 19 children. Each chair is crafted of bronze and stone; it's glass base is etched with the name of a victim. By day, the chairs seem to float above their translucent bases. By night, the glass bases illuminate as beacons of hope. The field's actual perimeter matches the footprint of the former Murrah Building. It's lined by a granite path - granite that was salvaged from the Murrah Plaza.
Across from the Memorial is something that actually isn't an official part of the Memorial itself. It's a statue built by a church across the street from what was the federal building. Most of this church was destroyed by the bomb. When they rebuilt, they placed this statue at the corner. It's of Jesus, head bowed in sorrow, with the words "And Jesus Wept" engraved into the base. It's probably one of, if not THE, most touching piece of statuary I've ever seen. Randey and I both choked up and shed a tear or two. The only other piece of rock that's brought this much emotion to the forefront of my mind is our grandson's headstone. I felt the same sadness, pain and melancholy looking at this statue as I feel whenever I see Conner's grave site and yet also the same sense of peacefulness and comfort that God doesn't leave us to feel hurt alone.
Along one side of the Memorial is this chain link fence where people still leave mementos and messages for those who were lost in the attack. I saw the pictures of two little boys, brothers apparently, who died that day. I saw the pictures of two beautiful young ladies in their teens...the pictures were left for their mother, who died when they were but 3 years old and 22 months old. I saw the picture of a woman with her sister, a sister who went to work on April 19, 1995, and never came home. The stuffed animals left for those innocent children, the flowers, the wreaths, the odd bits of things like a set of car keys, a pair of shoes, t-shirts, license plates...all of it was incredibly gripping and poignantly sad to see.
I will never understand the minds that decide killing is the way to make a point. So many people lost, so many families shattered, so many tears shed...and even after reading all about the warped person who "masterminded" this tragedy (whose name I will not mention - he doesn't merit that), I still can't even begin to see the reasoning behind this.

We didn't make it into the Museum - they don't allow pets, obviously. We plan to do that next time. We'll be taking the boys with us then, too. For better or worse, the Oklahoma City bombing is a part of our national history now and I think the boys should learn about it. I was sort of shocked to learn that they don't know that much about it. I forgot how young they were when it happened so while it's been a huge part of my conscience, it hasn't been a part of theirs. I want them to know about this, though. Sure, it's a horrible statement about the cruelty and evil human beings can be capable of, but it's also a glowing testimony of the resilience and goodness of human beings, as well. If you're ever in OKC, I urge you to visit this Memorial. There's so much more to it than I've spoken of in this post. I felt like I was in the presence of something spiritual and healing and good - so much beauty and love from something so horrific and evil. Despite the sadness, the loss, the nightmare of that day, good has triumphed there. And it's laid out for everyone to see. If you want proof of a higher being, of a greater plan, or a meaning of life...go experience this Memorial. You'll see how indomitable the human spirit is and you'll see how good us humans can be. This last picture is of Randey and the Johnny Bench statue at the Bricktown Ballpark. Yeah, we didn't get to see the game (notice who Randey is holding!), but I still got to say hello to JB (his likeness anyway!). Oh and see that bag on the ground to the left of Randey? That's Syd's new travel "purse". I was so bummed out that we didn't get to go to the ballgame or shopping or on the canal boat ride because we had the dog with us, but he didn't seem bothered by any of it as long as he was being carried. I think it's safe to say that Sydney liked riding around in his bag. Take about the "Life of Reilly"! That dog's got it made. And as soon as his doggy door is installed, so will WE!


  1. What a beautiful memorial. I know exactly how you felt. When we were in Washington DC I was really taken with some of the Memorials there.

  2. Hi Kari,

    That memorial would be so moving.I would also like to see ground zero some day. We seen the Vietnam memorial in DC and found my hubby's cousin on it. That was sad. Hey, Johnny Bench everything I like Syd's travel purse.

  3. Either the doggy door installed or teach him how to take pics so we can see you and Randey in the same shot. ;>

    Thank you for your most excellent review of the memorial in Oklahoma City. I've read others, but none better. I like what you said about its being a healing, spiritual experience.

  4. This is the best post I've read today. I can't get over it. I remember where I was that day...I was at the academy taking classes domestic violence...we were locked in and not allowed to leave for 2 days...there was so much fear that it wasn't over. You've told it well. And so Sydney doesn't like snausages? Mindy prefers her fake bacon...she'll eat the snausages as a last resort! Ahhhh, Johnny Bench...the other love of my life, lol! Great post!
    love ya
    Aunt Sandi

  5. Is that Uncle Randey in shorts with the fish belly white legs?? Just kidding I love him!! Never seen him in shorts before though!! Oh and by the way I am convinced that Osama Bin Ladin(sp?) was the one responsible for this tragedy he has caused enough death in this country I so hope he is DEAD DEAD DEAD!!
    Love ya

  6. Is that Uncle Randey in shorts with the fish belly white legs?? Just kidding I love him!! Never seen him in shorts before though!! Oh and by the way I am convinced that Osama Bin Ladin(sp?) was the one responsible for this tragedy he has caused enough death in this country I so hope he is DEAD DEAD DEAD!!
    Love ya

  7. I would love to visit this memorial. I have heard it is so very moving. Thank you for taking us along to experience it.

    Johnny Bench. Now, I must tell you. When I was young, I announced that I would, someday, marry Johnny. Oh yes. I loved that man. I had JB everything in my bedroom. I lived and breathed Cincy baseball anyway so when John joined,I fell in love. I even at from a plate with his likeness on it and yes, I still have that plate. I have met him
    and have his autograph on a baseball and no, I did not ask him to marry me. Bill would not let me. NO fun Bill.

    I love that Sydney is chillin' in his cool bag!


  8. Great post.

    It's amazing how they took such a horrible thing and created a place of beauty and hope...

  9. Kari - I have tears running down my cheeks as I read your incredible words!
    I remember so well - watching this on TV day after day and my 10 year old daughter (now 25) coming in and turning the TV off because she said she was tired of seeing me sad.
    Seeing the memorial is something I have always wanted to do and now you have taken me through it and described with beautiful words.
    Thank you

  10. Hi Kari!

    Thanks for showing such a beautiful yet sad memorial.

    Love your little horse that appears as the cursor here!


  11. Kari Honey, that was so well written and so worth saying. You had me in tears.

    One of our kids' Karate instructor's is going into the Army next week. He was at the school tonight, with his buzz cut hair. There is nothing little about him. He is a man. But so young Kari to be so brave. It is extremely noble in my mind to join the military during war time. I love that kid for being good to my kids. For teaching them how to protect themselves. And for going into the service to further protect all of us. I guess my heart is just full.

    On a puppy-perky note, Sydney looks very happy and content. You guys look like you are having fun together! Randey and you. OK, the three of you look like you are having fun.

    Be blessed and THANK YOU for sharing the thoughts and pictures.


  12. Kari,thank you for this great posting. It is a shame that a former military member planned and carried this horible attack out.I hope satin had a good spot for him.

  13. Memorials are so special arent theyI have been to one in France at Caen which is dedicated to the 2nd world war. Very thought provoking. Hope you and the family are well. Mary

  14. Thank you for such a touching post. The pictures and explanations just set the whole thing out so clearly & it is good to see terrible events being remebered. If we don't think back to the past how can we look forward to the future? We live near to Warrington in England which got bombed in 1993 by the IRA, and it is very touching to see the memorial there, although, thank God only for two very much loved little boys rather than a massive amount of people. The empty chairs idea was so emotive, I think it must have great power when you see it, like the lists of names on memorials, only physical. Bless you XXX

  15. I've heard about this memorial (the chairs specifically) but never "seen" it before. Thank you for the tour...
    God bless.

  16. Enjoyed your tour of the memorial.

    Once you get that doggie door installed, you will wonder how you ever lived without it!

  17. What a great post Kari. I loved seeing the photos. I'd love to visit it myself one day. What a special place! So beautiful.


  18. Very powerful! Such a tragic day for all of us..
    Glad you and the hubs got to spend some good quality time together (with the dog) hehe :)

    No baby yet..

  19. What a moving Memorial. I understand how you felt. When I went to the travelling wall, a smaller scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial I felt that way. When you see the tributes people leave and pictures of young people struck down way beofre their time it's so sobering. Thanks for sharing the pictures.


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