Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Violence Into Victory

One of our stops on our road trip to the Mid-West last year was to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.  What an amazing remembrance of the people who were killed in the April 19, 1995 bombing at the hands of a domestic terrorist, and a documentation of the activities that took place in the weeks and months afterwards.  If your travel plans take you anywhere close to Oklahoma, the Memorial and Museum are completely worth the drive and time.

There are too many poignant aspects to the memorial to list them all here.  The symbolism of the Memorial is haunting, with the field of empty chairs intentionally placed to show where people were when the bomb went off.  The gates at both ends of the reflecting pool are etched with 9:01 and 9:03 respectively, marking the transition from innocence to evil on that particular day. 

My most vivid memory from my visit was the room that was dedicated to those who lost their lives that day.  It’s set up so each of them has a 8x10 photo of themselves mounted on the wall with a small shelf in front of the picture.  Family members were contacted and asked to provide something that represented a part of their lost loved one to be placed on the shelf.  Some of the shelves were filled with memorabilia of lives filled with activity and accomplishments, other shelves summed up the person’s life with a simple object.  There was the shelf that contained just a small can of hair spray and as you looked at the photo you saw a young woman with really big hair.  On another shelf there was simply a baby’s pacifier for the months-old infant who died in the child care center, too young to have had a chance to develop an inventory of objects to choose from.  Perhaps saddest of all were the empty shelves, where family members either were too traumatized to participate, or perhaps no longer exist.  Amazing Grace plays softly as you walk your way around the room.

I didn’t want to title this post “Victims”, although by one definition of the word they were.  What the Memorial and Museum represents to me is the respectful remembrance of those who were killed that day and the documentation of the courage of survivors and first responders on that scene, even including stories of the dogs that assisted in the search.  The descriptions of how the community and beyond rallied to support survivors and family members of lost ones truly represents a victory over the violence of that terrible day.


  1. Thanks for featuring this; I can imagine it was a very touching time to go there and see this memorial of such a tragic event. I have a dear friend who lived in Oklahoma City at the time and was affected very much about the bombing; she was a nurse in one of the hospitals that got the injured. Every year she remembers the event; I think sometimes it gets overshadowed with 9/11, both tragic days.

    I'll have to remember to check it out if I am ever in that part of the country.


  2. i will never forget that day--thanks for the thoughtful post

  3. Beautiful post, and I love how you came up with the title. Really great.