When in Oklahoma City last week, I made the time to visit the national memorial dedicated to the memory of those killed, wounded, or changed forever by the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
It was a powerful experience that would be moving at any time. In these days of bombing attempts in Times Square and daily cable television rants against government, the power of remembrance seemed all the more important. This place – forever altered in horrific ways 15 years ago by the act of an individual angry at the federal government’s actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge – is a somber counterpoint to the hysteria that counts as civic discourse in parts of America today.
One enters the outdoor symbolic memorial through a gate marked 9:01 – the minute before the bombing – to represent the innocence of the city. At the other end of a reflecting pool, the west gate is marked 9:03, after everything changed. The best known feature of the memorial is the field of empty chairs, 168 in all, each to symbolize a life lost. The smaller chairs especially tear at the heart, representing the 19 children or babies killed.
These are real people whose lives were cut short because of irrational hatred and violence. In today’s culture, we need this place to remember.
More to come…