Sunday, February 14, 2010

Oklahoma City National Memorial

I've wanted to see the Oklahoma Memorial since my Mom went a few years back and came home with some really breathtaking pictures, and moving memories. Growing up, this sad event defined pieces of my youth. Living in a relatively self-absorbed world, sometimes there is something big enough that makes even a 15 year old stop and remember there are tragedies beyond current high school experiences. I'll never grasp the experience completely, and I certainly have no explanation to offer for those that dealt with this on a more pesonal level. I've dealt with personal tragedy, but never anything that was so intertwined with so many other's tragic stories, and a nation's pain. I think visiting the site helped put another piece of that experience into perspective. When I visit my Dad's grave-I know the piece of him I want to have is not there, but it reminds me that he was real...despite all the years that have passed, His soul is STILL real, and his love still remains. There aren't graves at the memorial, but I know it's been visited by many of the families and friends looking for those answers we all seek when tragic events happen.
There is a metal fence that surrounds the outsides of the memorial.

There are an assortment of stickers, pictures, wreaths, baby rattles, crosses, and flags. I know family member's have left these memories of their loved ones. I know visitors have left these momentos to represent their journey here, and their understanding of the loses that were suffered, and it's impact on them. I looked at the items, and I was wondering why they were each left, what they represented. I saw this baseball...

I wondered if it represented an adult's passion cut too short, or a child that would never get to play on a little league team. The one life lesson that struck me (that I'm always trying to relearn) is that all these momentos represent the things, and the passions these people left behind in this life, but the people they represent-they aren't missing these experiences now that they are in heaven. Those of us left back here on earth are missing out on getting to see them go through these events in OUR lives, but if we knew where they were, it wouldn't be sad to think about what they didn't 'get' to do here on earth. I wish I could wrap my mind around missing someone, but being grateful too that they no longer live in a world with so much pain, and tragedy-the opportunity to play on a baseball team never replaces the pain in life. It's OK to be sad for us, but not for those that go before. Life IS beautiful, but it's a whole lot better in heaven, and I forget that far too often.
The memorial sits on the spot where the federal building once sat, and parts of the wall, furthest from the bomb, still remain.
This portion of the walls has a tribute to all the survivors of the blast.

There is a reflecting pool (where the van was parked) that sits between these two entry ways. Each entry is marked with a time. 9:01, and 9:03.

The minute between those two times represents the events that took place. This is where all the chairs sit. They are marked with names, in rows that represent the locations these people were at this moment in history. The smaller chairs represent the children (many of these were on the second floor at a daycare).

I felt comforted in seeing the steeples that stand over each corner of the memorial. It kept putting it into perspective for me. I don't get it. It's not fair. It's not right. It's not what God would have chosen, but for some reason the events were allowed, but it has to be filed under the 'I'm not going to get this on this side of heaven' category, but I have to trust in the ultimate plans.

This tree sits on the other side of the reflecting pool, and it sat here before 9:01 on the day the bomb was set off, and it remains there today.

The new Federal Building sits to the diagonal of the memorial.

I've been blessed with the opportunity to visit many memorials over the years, and I think this memorial did one of the best jobs of bringing me comfort. It really captures the essense of those that were impacted, and the beauty in the lives they lead. I'm glad I went, I'll be going back again.