Just in time for the 20th anniversary of the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing, the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum has undergone a $10 million transformation in order to commemorate that day and remember the event. It is well worth a visit, especially if you have never been and want a greater understanding of what happened to Oklahoma City 20 years ago – and how it pulled us together as a community.
“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,” reads the mission statement on the memorial’s website.
On that April day, 168 Oklahomans died when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in what was then the worst terrorist act on American soil. Most of the victims were federal employees; 19 of them were children who were part of the building’s day care center. Hundreds more were wounded; more than 12,000 volunteers and rescue workers participated in rescue efforts, recovery and support.
Out of that act, the grief and the many acts of kindness from around the world that followed the bombing came the National Memorial, which includes the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial, a beautiful and serene outdoor park that rests between two gates etched with the minute before – 9:01 a.m. – and the minute after the attack – 9:03 a.m. In between the golden-hued gates are representations of what happened at 9:02, the minute the bomb went off – 168 chairs with each of the victims’ name on it, a reflecting pool and the Survivor Tree, which miraculously survived the bomb blast and is still growing, and more.
More than half of the people who live in Oklahoma City today either weren’t born or didn’t live here in 1995. If you are one of those people, take a moment to visit and understand the events from April 19, 1995.