There is often a mixed feeling of visiting a location of historic significance. While many choose not to do so because they personally do not have a connection, I always encourage everyone to at least give these sites a thought when planning your adventures. Why? Because there is so much which can be taken away from these sites which are many times associated with some of the worst and best of humanity.
With that being said it is always very important to visit with a certain etiquette and reverence for the events which transpired. I have personally visited numerous battlefields across the country as well as sites which have more recent historic significance. While many of these have a tragic past, it is the past which has allowed us to grow and learn and with that develop and form some of the best in humanity from some of the worst.
While we do not all have a personal connection to major events such as 9-11 or the Oklahoma City Bombing, by visiting locations which pay tribute to those who were tragically taken and allowing ourselves to see what transpired, how action was taken following such major events and what has come as a result is something which can allow each and every one of us to aspire to be a more active voice toward creating a positive change in the world around us.
In 1995 when the Oklahoma City bombing happened I was in junior high. I remember barely being old enough to really understand what was happening and how the magnitude of what happened actually was moulding the world around me. Now as an adult visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial site, I am able to connect and more fully understand the events of the day the tragic nature not only which directly effected the community and those lost but how big of a toll it took on the world around us all.
Places like this are very important and when you travel though they might not be the bold colorful fun locations they are a valuable part of our world which should be both seen and shared. Somber moments evoke feeling within us and inspire us to be a part of the bigger picture instead of hiding within our bubble and with that we can discover deeply personal meaning even in situations we formerly might not have felt connected to at all.
The National Memorial site is located in the downtown region of Oklahoma City. When you arrive you are surrounded by large buildings which very much so play a part in the day to day life of many Oklahomans today. It is hard to believe that in such a populous area that such a tragedy could have taken place and that much of the area was in fact in rubble.
Now in the footprint of what formerly was the Alfred P. Murrah building, a building which housed many government agencies at the time as well as private sector offices, rests an outdoor memorial with the names of each of the 168 victims of the tragic day. Additionally, there is a wall of survivors adorning one of the few remaining walls of the former structure.
It is hallowed ground which now serves as a lasting reminder of how the worst in humanity can spawn such selfish hatred but in comparison how the love and dedication of the community came together to show the best in humanity through bonding together and surviving for those who were lost on the tragic day of April 19th.
Two large towering gates flank a reflecting pool with the times of 9:01 and 9:03. These are considered to be the Gates Of Time and share the moment that life forever changed in Oklahoma City and the moment that it started again. The reflecting pool was thoughtfully created to reflect back the image of anyone looking into it as a person who was changed forever by the day.
The Survivor Tree was one of the only remaining pieces of vegetation following the attack. It was said to be a symbol of hope and has persevered through the years and continued to grow to honor those who withstood the tragic day’s events.
The playground which once was filled with joy of those children from the daycare center, now sits fenced with a plaque and the sounds of laughter are no more. Instead some of the chairs in the field below stand half the size of others honoring the tragically taken children, innocent from blame yet not shielded from the hate of the individuals which caused such pain.
Something unique about the location is the continued support which can be seen. A fence donning gifts from visitors, honoring those who were taken prematurely so many years ago rests at the opening of the outdoor memorial. Visiting this location you can still see how so many are effected and impacted. It is a part of the experience of visiting a location like this which places a real human face on something which might have just been a news story or something you read in a history book. It is something which will move you and forever can change you.