Filed under: Historic Places & Landmarks, RV Home School, State & National Parks
Oklahoma City National Memorial…
Earlier this month, we were blessed with the opportunity to take a trip to Moore, OK, to help with the tornado cleanup relief efforts there. While we were in Moore, we took a Sunday afternoon and went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Since we travel with kids of all ages, I was curious as to how the National Park Service would handle such a tragedy – namely, if it would be appropriate for my littles to visit, or if it would be overwhelmingly sorrowful.
We found out that, actually, this memorial isn’t officially a National Park, but the park service has a presence here; the park service is only an affiliate, and the OKC National Memorial Foundation owns and runs the grounds, all on private funding (no NPS monies). The outside memorial grounds are open 24/7, and the park service provides rangers (there are also onsite, armed, security); during the summer, the rangers are there until 10pm!
The Jr. Ranger books here are great for little ones! The kids had to do one page for each year of age, and there were some easy activities that they could do on their own. The bigger kids (9,12, and 14) had to do a ton of pages, but they actually did extra and finished every page of the books.
The OKCNM is a beautiful memorial, and has so much interesting symbolism. Symbolism that is meaningful and touching to those more mature, and interesting (or just plain over the heads of) our little ones.
A reflection pool that graces the middle of the park is now where the one way street, 5th Street, used to be, running in front of the Murrah Federal Building; the street where the bomber parked a 24′ moving truck in a loading zone, 7 feet in front of the Federal Building, and walked away. He had lit the fuse to over 2.5 tons of explosives before he got to the area – once parked, he just walked away, taking cover behind a large building a block away until the blast was over. At each end of where the street was, are large gates, each one with a time carved out of it. On one end, the time 9:01 signifies the time of innocence before the blast, and the other gate, with 9:03 on it, represents the time after. Between the gates, you are sandwiched in the moment of 9:02am – the time of the OKC blast.
There were 168 people that died in the blast, 19 of which were children. In the Field of Empty Chairs, there is a chair for each person, with the chairs that represent children being smaller in size. The chairs, each with a name etched on the glass base, are arranged in rows; each row signifying where the person was in the 9 story building when the blast occurred (if the chair is in the second row, the person was on the second story when the blast hit – most of the smaller chairs are in the second row since that is where the daycare in the building was).
Beyond the reflection pool shown in the pictures (to the left of the first picture), is where the Survivor Tree is. The survivor tree is over 100 years old, and has survived despite being so close to the blast. It was in the middle of a parking lot just across the road from where the truck exploded, and even caught on fire from the blast. Everyone thought it was dead, and the FBI wanted it cut down so that they could examine it for debris from the rental truck, but when it started to regrow leaves, people rallied, and…here it is.
There are other parts to the memorial that we did not have the time to visit. There is a children’s area that is dedicated to the thousands of children that sent notes of encouragement, and even millions of pennies to make the memorial a reality. The grounds also have a museum that goes more in depth about the times prior, during, and after the explosion. It includes artifacts from the scene, and looks really neat to visit! It does charge an admission fee.
We had a beautiful visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial! It was peaceful and serene, but pretty sobering also. The people here in OKC have seen so much sorrow – this bombing in ’95, a huge tornado in ’99, and now these 2 tornadoes (Moore and El Reno) this year. They sure are a hardy lot, but they also sure could use your prayers! If you are traveling through OK, a stop at the Oklahoma City National Memorial is well worth the time!