Remembering at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
Oklahoma City found itself in the middle of the United States’ first serious domestic terrorism incident in April of 1995. After the dust had settled, the are was memorialized in a fitting memorial and historic museum that pays appropriate tribute to this horrific incident. Our visit to Oklahoma City would allow us an afternoon to take in this space and monument.
Remembering at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Oklahoma, United States of America
For those in their forties and older, you’d likely remember the first horrific act of domestic terrorism in the United States of America. It wasn’t the horrors of the New York City Attacks, but the year of 1995’s Oklahoma City Bombing outside the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building that killed scores of innocent office workers and civilians.
I happened to be visiting Oklahoma tagging onto MrsWT73’s work trip. Where I got the opportunity to visit this commemorative sight.
About the Oklahoma City Bombing:
The Oklahoma City bombing was the first substantial domestic terrorist truck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. The attack was perpetrated by two anti-government extremists, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. The bombing happened on April 19, 1995 at 9:02 a.m. and killed at least 168 people, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed more than one-third of the building, which had to be demolished. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage. The attack marked the first material case of domestic terrorism in the United States prior to the New York City September 11 attacks.
Arranging a Visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial:
I was staying at The Ambassador Hotel by Autograph Collection, which is located in Midtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States.
It was a short drive (or a possible twenty minute walk) up to the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The Oklahoma City National Memorial is located on the site of the bombing location, and the former site of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building.
It’s central location was easy to reach. While the Oklahoma City National Memorial offered free parking with a museum entry, after squaring the block in the rental car, I wasn’t able to locate the actual entrance to the parking garage. We ended up in a paid parking lot to the west of the memorial at a $2 an hour rate, although street parking was also free to park on the street on the weekends.
Arriving to the Oklahoma National Museum:
After parking the car, we wandered our way up to the memorial pool. We would end up saving the memorial pool for after the museum. I couldn’t help but notice the serene space of the memorial pool as we wandered towards the nearby museum building.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum building was located just adjacent to the memorial pool.
I visited the museum website the day before we visited. They were selling tickets under blocks of time and you could select a particular time slot for your visit. Having said that, on our visit on Saturday, we didn’t have to wait for a preferred time slot. We ended up just walking in with no wait what so ever.
Inside the Oklahoma National Museum:
Like the National September 11 Memorial and Museum New York, the Oklahoma Museum contained a combination of multi media elements and traditional museum pieces.
The Oklahoma City National Museum started off describing what appeared to be an average spring day in Oklahoma City. The stage was set with workers heading off to work, people starting an hearing, along with sights of the sky line.
There were more ominous exhibits, including seized closed circuit television cameras that captured the Ryder truck that was used to convey the explosives that started the bombing attack.
There was also a long list of occupants of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building. These included many United States federal investigative agencies which included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the United States Customs’ Service and the United States Secret Service to name a few.
After hearing the transcript sound of an agricultural licensing hearing that captured the sounds of the explosion on tape, you were led into exhibits. The exhibits included video interviews of survivors and responders attending to the disaster.
The museum led through to artifacts and evidence recovered from the explosion site. This included the Florida Licence Plate from the Ryder Rental Truck parked out front of the federal building.
While there weren’t too many artifacts collected from the museum itself, the museum did a great job at profiling the citizens involved in the building, along with the rescue workers who responded to the attack.
The museum also covered the various international news reporting of the incident. It was among the first to be covered amongst the international cable news networks, at a time that main stream media was becoming ever more popular.
There was also the vehicle that Timothy McVeigh was stopped in for failing to display a licence plate just ninety minutes after the explosion by an Oklahoma State Patrol member on the interstate just outside of Oklahoma City.
The museum concluded with a review of the evidence presentation against the accused Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice Terry Nicols. The museum concluded with a walk through the Gallery of Honor. It contained a memorial of all those that had perished in the attacks, including those that perished saving others during the bombing.
Our visit through the museum took us a medium paced ninety minutes, but I could have spent about two hours in there as a serious museum buff.
The museum did a pretty good job and making the experience and visit a multi media one that resonated with visitors. There was certainly enough in television format and video reels to keep any visitor engaged and entertained.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial:
After the museum, we took a walk around the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The memorial pool contains the street of where the Ryder truck explosive device was parked before it was detonated almost directly underneath the Alfred P Murrah Federal Buidling.
The architects did an impressive job with the water memorial. Each end contained a window into the before and after. Each end was marked with a time stamp of 9:01 AM (representing the before), and 9:03 AM (representing the after).
The memorial chairs were covered on the lawn next to the location of where the actual Alfred P Murrah Federal Building was located. The chairs represented the location of the victims of each floor; with each row representing a floor of the building.
The rows of chairs overlooking the reflection pool was a pretty sombre but touching memorial for those that passed just going about their daily work.
Their also contained a singular row of chairs for those that passed after the bombing, or those that were rescue workers on the day of the bombing.
My Thoughts on the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum:
The Oklahoma National Memorial Museum was a poignant reminder and memorial to the first and worst domestic terrorism incident in the United States. While the experience is not as enriching as the New York September 11 Memorial and Museum, it is a stark reminder of the extremism ideologies that are possible.
It’s easily worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA like I did.