Notice: This post is being written during the COVID-19 pandemic and at this time, the Oklahoma City National Memorial is closed to visitors. Please stay safe and follow your state or country’s guidelines for travel in your region. More information on the museum’s current status can be found here.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
On that fateful morning, the clock stopped. It was 9:02 AM and people were just starting their day. In that instant, lives would forever be changed and for 168 men, women, and children, their lives ended. Across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Building, a meeting of the water commission was just getting underway. The moderator started a recorder to document the events of the meeting and began the opening statements.
On that tape, a large blast interrupted the proceedings. At that moment in time, a truck bomb exploded. The large box truck was packed with explosives so powerful that it ripped the facade from the building laying bare the entire front of the structure. The hours and days that followed were consumed with first responders searching for survivors and law enforcement beginning to unravel the trail of the individuals who would perpetrate such as heinous act.
Outside the building, a lone tree, severely damaged, remained standing. An American Elm stood providing shade in the parking lot of the building. Early arrivers to their place of work would be rewarded with a shady parking spot underneath the giant elm tree. It was nearly removed to recover evidence of the bomb blast, but the tree was spared. Nursed back to health after being nearly destroyed by the bomb blast, it has become a signature memorial. Cuttings of the Survivor Tree are found all over Oklahoma. From the Memorial website, “The Survivor Tree is a symbol of human resilience. Today, as a tribute to renewal and rebirth, the inscription around the tree reads, ‘The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.'”
Each anniversary, the museum hosts a remembrance where families of victims gather to remember those who were taken from us so violently. It is a tragedy of timing that on the 25th Anniversary, the museum is closed and gathering is not an option due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is gripping the world right now. To honor the memory, an Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony video is posted on the National Memorial’s website. You can view the video here. More images and a tour of the memorial from my visit in October 2017 can be found here.
On the side of the old Journal Record building, now the home of the museum, next door to the Murrah Building, Rescue Team 5 left an angry message in red lettered spray paint. The red pigment is now gone, faded to a dull blue, but the message is still as angry and as poignant as it was the day it was written.
We search for the truth.
We seek justice.
The courts require it.
The victims cry for it.
And God demands it!