Saturday, 10 January 2015

DAY 31 - Lest We Forget: 19 April 1995, 0902 h

Hi y'all, greetings from Oklahoma City, day three of our stay here.

Today took a sombre turn with our visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial which commemorates the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. It is located in downtown Oklahoma City on the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed in the 1995 bombing. This building was located on NW 5th Street between N. Robinson Avenue and N. Harvey Avenue.

For those who were too young or not around to remember, the Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City at 0902 h on 19 April, 1995. Carried out by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing killed 168 people and injured more than 680 others. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a 16-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, causing at least an estimated $652 million worth of damage.

McVeigh set a timer which detonated in excess of 4,800 pounds (2,200 kg) of ammonium nitrate fertiliser, nitromethane, and a diesel fuel mixture held in a truck at 9:02 am in front of the north side of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. McVeigh was sentenced to death which was carried out via lethal injection in 2001 and Nichols received 161 consecutive life sentences.

An image taken just after the bombing (via NBC

The memorial is a very sombre place to be and it is heart-wrenching to be standing at the actual site of such a senseless killing of so many people. The memorial comprises a number of separate features, but the Gates of Time were probably the most poignant. One of the Gates has 9:01 and the other 9:03. They represent 0901 h, when the city still had its innocence and 0903 h when Oklahoma City (and the World) changed forever. Additionally, the Field of Empty Chairs has one chair for each of those who died. They are arranged in nine rows with the number of chairs per row, representing the number of deaths per floor of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

The Memorial Fence is a chain-link fence that contains messages, poems, tributes, stuffed toys and trinkets as tributes
The Memorial Fence

The Eastern Gate of Time is Reflected in the Reflecting Pool. It is said that when you see your reflection in the Reflecting Pool, you are looking at someone who was changed forever by the events of 19 April 1995

Maureen and Kyle stroll beside the Reflecting Pool with the Oklahoma City Museum as a backdrop

A National Memorial Clock sits outside the Oklahoma City Museum Building

The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum 

We come here to remember Those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence.May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.

The Deck Wall around the Survivor Tree states; The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.

The eastern Gate of Time with 9:01 inscribed representing the minute before the bombing

The Survivor Tree was the only shade tree in the parking lot across the street from the Murrah Building. It is said that commuters arrived early to get one of the shady parking spots provided by its branches.

More than 5,000 hand-painted tiles, from all over the United States and Canada, were made by children and sent to Oklahoma City after the bombing in 1995.

Some of the remains of the Murrah Building form part of the memorial

The Field of Empty Chairs made of  Glass, Stone and Bronze with individuals' names etched on the Glass base

The Field of Empty Chairs. Although not able to be seen from this angle, there are 19 smaller chairs sadly representing the children killed in the bombing

The eastern Gate of Time
The visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial really impacted us. I must admit that my recollection of the incident was pretty poor, though I did remember it. 

Lest We Forget

Our next visit was to Bricktown which is in the downtown area and is predominantly an entertainment district which includes a Ballpark, a Canal, a Theatre and lots of Restaurants and Shops. We had lunch at Sonic which is generally a drive through only restaurant, but at Bricktown, this is the corporate headquarters of Sonic, so they have a sit-down restaurant.

Brickasaw Bricktown Ballpark

Kyle contemplating his Powerade drink at Sonic

It's a Duck!

A team meeting between Maureen, Schuyler and Kyle on crossing the road

The navigable Canal through Bricktown, though not very navigable today due to it being frozen over

New buildings underway at Bricktown

A giant mural painted by Dr Palmer
Earlier in the day we also went to a Record Store called 'Guest Room Records' which Schuyler researched. He was pretty pleased with himself when he bagged a bargain which was The Flaming Lips Album - Zaireeka which he got for around $17 when he had seen it previously for over $120.

After Bricktown, I decided to check out Tinker Air Force Base and try my luck with spotting for one last time and a quick look at the Charles B. Hall Airpark. I was rewarded with a Boeing E-3C Sentry on approach in the opposite direction as yesterday.

Boeing E-3C Sentry

Boeing E-3C Sentry

After Tinker, we headed across to the Matt Hoffman Skatepark so Joshua could try out his newly purchased Skateboard. When there we also walked along a walking path beside the Oklahoma River which was frozen. Given that for us Aussies, this is an unusual thing, we set about throwing and skimming rocks and boulders on and across the icy surface, like a bunch of little mischievous kids.

The iced-over Oklahoma River

Schuyler manages to break the Oklahoma River...nice one Schuyler
Joshua having some skateboard action

Joshua, again...

...and again
A train crosses the Oklahoma River

Sunset in Oklahoma City
On the way back to the Hotel, I tried my luck with a dusk shot of the city. I also managed to capture an Oil Pump in action.

Dusk over beautiful Oklahoma City

An operating Oil Pump not far from the city
We finished the day with dinner at Louie's Bar and Grill which is right next to out Hotel and now considered highly rated by the Plekkers. The boys also managed to shoot some hoops in at the Hotel's Basketball half-court.

Well that's it for today. We have really enjoyed Oklahoma City. Tomorrow we head back to the starting point of this phase of the Holiday, Dallas, Texas.