National Park Week Saturday, April 20 - Sunday, April 28, 2013
Come celebrate your National Parks with us at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. We will kick off the week with Jr. Ranger Day April 20, 2013. Free and informative for the whole family. More »
We come here to remember
The Oklahoma City National Memorial honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and those changed forever on April 19, 1995. A description of the Outdoor symbolic Memorial can be found below.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum:
The Memorial Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.; Sunday 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. with last ticket sales stopping one hour before the close of business each day. Visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum's website for more information.
Representing an army of rescue workers charging up the hill to surround and protect the Survivor Tree is the Rescuers Orchard. This is where we show our gratitude to the over 12,000 rescue workers that participated in the rescue effort. The trees closest to the Survivor Tree are the Oklahoma state tree, Eastern Redbud. The trees further down the hill and next to the reflecting pool are Chinese Pistache. The next row of trees are Amur Maples. The Chinese Pistache and the Amur Maple are nonnative to Oklahoma and represent the task force members that came from outside of Oklahoma to participate in the rescue effort. All together the trees are fruit and flower bearing representing the fruits of the rescuer's labor and the life cycle that is now able to continue for those who received the benefits of the rescuers efforts.
Originally used to limit access to the 20 block radius most affected by the blast, the Memorial Fence protected the community from a very dangerous area, but it also restricted the access of those so desperate to be at the site helping their fellow community members. The boundary become a spontaneous memorial where individuals were able to leave items that helped them to begin their healing process or items that might help others begin theirs. Over 60,000 items have been removed from the fence and placed in the archives of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum and new items are being left every day. The fence was no an original element in the memorial design. It wasn't until the day after the ground breaking when family members, rescue workers and survivors took a section of the fence from where it stood and the time and placed it where it stands today outside of the 9:03 Gate.
Gates of Time
9:01 in the east and 9:03 in the west representing the minute before and the minute after the blast. The time 9:02 is symbolically framed between the gates in the place where the blast occurred. The symbolic timeline representing the last minute of innocence indicates a change in our mindset as a result of such an unsuspecting city experiencing the first major act of domestic terrorism. For these reasons we were challenged to reconsider our safety and security here in the heartland. The minute after the attack is a tribute to the way the community came together so powerfully to start the rescue, rebuilding and healing process.
The memorial's most famous survivor will not be found on the Survivor Wall but at the highpoint of the memorial surrounded by a curved wall. The Survivor Tree is a 90- 100 year old American Elm tree which makes it a unique tree as there are few elms this old in the USA as a result of the Dutch Elm disease. More importantly the Survivor Tree stood where it is today surrounded by a 60+ car parking lot the day of the blast. The trunk was inundated with glass and debris, major limbs were blown off, and the tree caught on fire from the exploding cars in the surrounding parking lot. As you might imagine the tree didn't look like much following the attack. It wasn't until someone noticed that the tree still had a bit of life in it and began to nurture the tree that it instantly became a symbol of strength, hope, and resiliency to the community because just like the tree the community had suffered so greatly yet they too had found the strength to come together to nurture the community back to health.
Between the Gates of Time there is a large body of water only ¾ of an inch deep that sits where NW 5th Street once ran. The street still continues on either side of the memorial and was a through street at the time of the attack. This is the street that McVeigh used to access the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.Today it's called the Reflecting Pool as it reflects all that has changed as a result of the attack. While many things are reflected by the pool, the changed landscape, the times on the gates, the field of chairs, the ultimate hope is that we will see ourselves reflecting in the pool meaning that each and every one of us have been changed by this event either remotely by how we now interact with the Federal Government or simply by having come to the memorial to learn more about the events that occurred at this site.
The Field of Chairs
To the south of the reflecting pool is a large grassy area where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood.Today it's called the Field of Empty Chairs. The field holds 168 empty chairs, one chair for each life that was lost. The concept of an empty chair was used to remind us of the absence of those who should be here with us today but are not as a result of the attack. Of the 168 chairs there are two groups. One group of 163 for those who were inside the federal building at the time of the blast, and a group of five chairs at the far west end, next to the 9:03 Gate, of the Field of Empty Chairs that represent those individuals who were outside of the federal building, but lost their lives as a direct result of the attack. Four of the individuals that died outside of the federal building were on the north side of the street and the fifth individual, Rebecca Anderson, was a rescue worker who was hit with debris and died of head injuries a few days later. The group of 163 chairs is arranged in rows according to the floor the individual was working on or visiting at the time of the attack. Each row is in alphabetical order according to agencies so that co-workers would be group together.As a unit, the chairs are arranged to represent the damage that was created by the blast. Just east of center is the highest concentration of chairs. More chairs represent more damage, fewer chairs less damage to the building. Another way to visualize this is to remember the skeleton of the federal building with the large void created by the explosion. The chairs, as a unit, create a puzzle piece fitting into the damaged building symbolically making the building complete or whole again. There are two different sizes of chairs in the field. The larger chairs are for the adults and the smaller chairs are for children. Nineteen children were killed in the building that day. Of those, fifteen were in the America's Kids Daycare which was located on the second floor represented by the second row of chairs. Three children were in the Social Security Administration on the first floor and one young girl was on the fourth floor visiting her father in his office.The chairs have been designed to look as if they are floating like a memory floats in and out of our conscience. At night the base lights up emphasizing the name etched into the glass base. The light is a soft light something like a nightlight that we would have used as children to take away the fear of the darkness .The lights in the chairs also take away the fear of the darkness; the darkness/evil that occurred at this site.
The Survivor Wall can be found at the east end of the Field of Empty Chairs. The northeast corner of the building is all that remains of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Hanging on the Survivor Wall are four granite panels originally located in the lobby of the federal building. Inscribed on the granite panels are over 600 names of individuals who survived. The impact having been so great that the definition of a survivor extends beyond the boundary of the federal building and includes those who were in buildings in roughly a one block radius that suffered the largest number of deaths, serious injuries, and significant structural damage.
The original plaza, part of the formal entry into the federal building, provides visitor's with the opportunity to experience the design and architecture of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and an excellent overview of the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial Grounds. The plaza floor holds the seals of each of the agencies that were represented inside the federal building at the time of the attack. In addition, a portion of what was the children's playground can be seen in its original location.
It is recommended that you allow at least 1 hour for the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial and approximately 2 hours for the Memorial Museum. Please remember that pets are not allowed on the Memorial Grounds or in the museum. Taking pictures is allowed on the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial and in the Memorial Museum. Please be aware of extreme weather conditions and prepare accordingly. Drinking adequate amounts of water in the summer and wearing layered clothing in the winter is recommended. For younger visitors, Junior Ranger and other programs are available. Ask for a National Park Service Ranger on-site to obtain details.
Did You Know?
Heavily damaged as a result of the April 19, 1995 bombing, the historic Journal Record Building was rehabilitated and now houses the Oklahoma City National Museum. Built in 1923, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. More...