The adventures of the Els family, who immigrated from South Africa to the USA. Els family in Texas.

Visit To Oklahoma City Memorial

On Friday, July 20, 2001 we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial. This memorial is located on the site of the Alfred P. Murrah building, which was destroyed by a bomb blast on April 19, 1995, and was built to honor the lives of the 168 people who died that day.

The designers of the memorial did an excellent job. The section of 5th Street between Harvey & Robinson Streets, the section that passed the Murrah building and where the truck-bomb was parked, has been closed off.

On the ends of the closed-off section are the Gates of Time, two walls with a time inscription. The eastern gate reads "9:01" and the western gate reads "9:03". The explosion took place at 9:02 a.m., so the Gates surround the moment of the explosion.

Between the two gates, in what used to be 5th Street, is the Reflecting Pool, a black marble pool about ½ inch deep, with water continually flowing over the edges.

On the south side of the pool, in the place of what used to be the Murrah building, is the Field of Empty Chairs, a grass slope with 168 empty chairs, each chair representing one person who died. The chairs are arranged in 9 rows according the floor where each person was at the time of the explosion. Nineteen of the chairs are smaller, representing the 19 children who died.

On the north side of the pool is the Survivor Tree, an American Elm tree that survived the explosion, and now represents the survivors. The Rescuer's Orchard, a group of fruit and flower bearing trees surrounding the Survivor Tree, represents all the people who helped with the rescue efforts.

Also on the north side, in a building that survived the explosion, is the Memorial Center, which shows a time-line from about 6 a.m. on that day until the present. No photography was allowed in the Center.

Plaque at the entrance of the Oklahoma City Memorial The plaque at the entry to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

The Gates of Time at the Oklahoma City memorial The first of the Gates of Time. The inscription on it is "9:01", and represents the moment preceding the blast.

The Reflecting Pool at the Oklahoma City memorial In the distance is the second Gate of Time, with the inscription "9:03", representing the moment after the blast. In the foreground is the Reflecting Pool.

Oklahoma City memorial A wider view of the memorial showing the Reflecting Pool, one of the Gates of Time, and the Field of Empty Chairs in the background.

The Field of Empty Chairs at the Oklahoma City memorial A closer view of the Field of Empty Chairs. The larger chairs represent adults who died, and the smaller chairs represent the children who died.

The Survivor Tree at the Oklahoma City memorial This American Elm tree survived the blast and now represents all the survivors.

Statue of Jesus at the Oklahoma City memorial "And Jesus Wept"

This is the inscription at the feet of Jesus in a smaller memorial built on the grounds of a church, across the road, that was also damaged in the blast. I took this picture at exactly 9:02 a.m. on the morning of our visit.

It was a moving experience to be there. Visitng the memorial gave us a sense of the destruction (physical & psychological) that took place that day. So many lives were cut short, and many more are still in pieces because of one cowardly act. If you ever get the opportunity to see the memorial, do so. You can also visit the Memorial online.

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Copyright, John Els