This past week my wife, daughter and I went on vacation to Oklahoma City to hit White Water Bay water park and Frontier City Theme Park. While we were there, we visited a site that most people don't think about too often anymore. The site of the Oklahoma City Bombing.

 

Bombing Memorial Oklahoma City
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I was 18 years old when I remember hearing the news that a bomb had exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. The footage started rolling in and I can remember feeling my stomach sink. This was way before 9/11 and the thought of this kind of terrorist act was new to most Americans. Looking back on this tragedy, I remember seeing the devastation on television, but visiting the memorial in Oklahoma City really had an affect on me and my family. 168 people lost their lives that day, 19 of which were children.

As the three of us walked around the memorial during the afternoon, reading all of the signs posted around, I kept thinking "I can't believe this is where it happened." The grounds are beautiful and so well kept, the grass is plush and soft and the atmosphere is serene and calm.

OKC Bombing Memorial
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On one side of the memorial there is a huge wall with the time stamped 9:01 (before anything had happened) and then a block long reflecting pool that represents 9:02 (when the bomb detonated) and then another huge wall stamped 9:03 (the time Oklahoma City was changed forever). Standing and looking at this part of the memorial gave me goosebumps as I tried to imagine what these people had gone through. I'm sure I wasn't even close.

Then, just North of the reflecting pool we walked up to the 'Survivor Tree' which is a beautiful tree that actually withstood the blast and was able to live on. This tree represents the resilience of the city and how people were able to move on after this disaster.

Chairs Representing Lost Lives OKC Memorial
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After that, right at dusk, we made our way to the place where the building actually stood. Now, just a plush area of grass with illuminated chairs that represent the people who lost their lives in the blast. I was completely taken back by how touched we all were by standing there. The chairs are lined across the grass with the five chairs on the East side representing the 5 individuals killed outside of the building. While taking pictures, my daughter asked me why some of the chairs are smaller than the others. I explained to her, that the small chairs represent the children that were in the building. She may only be six, but I could really see how she was truly moved by being there. This is the first thing she shared with her "Gahmma" when she called later that evening.

Our trip to Oklahoma City was very fun and a great getaway, but I have to say that the most powerful and moving part of that week was walking these grounds. Reflecting on things then, what happened on September 11, 2001 and how the country has changed over the last 16 years.