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 is 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.
The Children's Area, nestled in the Rescuer's Orchard, is a reminder to us of the important role children, from all across the United States, played in the rescue effort. They sent those so intimately involved in the attack gifts of hope and encouragement in the form of cards, letters, teddy bears, and tiles. Although the gifts were a relatively small gesture, the Children's Area now stands in remembrance of the impact of their efforts. Today a wall covered with a sampling of tiles and chalkboards laid out on the ground in the shape of oversized cards and letters. The chalkboards allow children of all ages to continue to leave their own message of hope and encouragement still today.
The Rescuers' Orchard, representing an army of rescue workers, charges up the hill to surround and protect the Survivor Tree. The orchard represents the over 12,000 rescue workers that participated in the rescue effort and honors those men, women, and rescue dogs who gave selflessly in the aftermath of the bombing. The Eastern redbuds, the trees closest to the Survivor Tree and the Oklahoma state tree, represent the first responders, the Oklahomans. The two other trees in the orchard are Chinese pistache and Amur maples. Both trees are nonnative to Oklahoma, representing the rescuers that came from across the nation to serve in a time of need. Together, the trees are fruit and flower bearing which represents the fruits of the rescuers' labor.
Originally used to limit access to the 20 block area affected by the blast, the Memorial Fence protected the community from a dangerous area. The fence became a spontaneous memorial. Individuals left items that helped them to begin their healing process or that might help others to begin their healing process. In the years since the bombing, over 60,000 items have been removed from the fence and placed in the archives of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Items are still being left in honor and memory of this event as well as for subsequent tragic events. The Oklahoma City National Memorial has evolved as a place of healing and memory for more than just the Oklahoma City bombing.
Gates of Time
The Gates, 9:01 in the east and 9:03 in the west, represent 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 9:01 Gate represents the last minute of innocence and our perceived sense of security as a result of Oklahoma City being an unsuspecting place for an attack. This is true for the United States as a whole, as we now are faced with domestic terrorism as a real threat to our country. The minute after the attack, 9:03, is a tribute to the human spirit and our ability to be resilient in the face of tragedy and adversity. In Oklahoma City, the community came together beginning the rescue, rebuilding, and healing process.
At the pinnacle of the memorial stands the bombing's most famous survivor, the 100 year-old American elm we know today as the Survivor Tree.At the time of the attack the tree stood across the street from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building and was surrounded by a parking lot. The bombing severely damaged the tree. While some thought it might not survive, the tree was not a complete loss. Still standing in the same location, the tree became a symbol of the community's and the nation's resilience. Like the Survivor Tree, Oklahoma and the nation suffered greatly, yet rebounded, resulting in the thriving city that exists today.
Between the Gates of Time sits the Reflecting Pool. The pool reflects all that has changed as a result of the attack; symbolically it represents the limitless impact of the event. Our own reflection in the pool leads us to contemplate how different the world we live in today is from that of 1995. The pool sits where NW 5th Street once ran. McVeigh drove down NW 5th Street to access the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and parallel parked the Ryder truck containing the explosives on the north side of the building. In respect for those lives lost, NW 5th Street, between Robinson and Harvey, was closed forever.
The Field of Chairs
The Field of Empty chairs lies within the footprint of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. One hundred and sixty eight empty chairs, each etched with a name of a victim, stand as a reminder of the innocent lives that were lost. The emptiness of the chair expresses a sense of absence. The five western chairs, separated from the larger group, represent those not inside the building, but who lost their lives as a direct result. The other 163 chairs are arranged in rows according to the floors of the building with each person listed in alphabetical order according to the agency in which they worked or were visiting. The chairs are illuminated at night. The light emphasizes the individual's name and brings comfort from and eliminates the fear of the darkness. As a unit the empty chairs are arranged to represent the damage done to the building, with the highest concentration of chairs near the center of the footprint to symbolically fill in the damage done to the building by the bomb. And, as you look out over the field, you will notice two sizes of chairs. The large chairs represent the adults and the smaller chairs the nineteen children whose lives were taken. Again, reminding us all of the impact this bombing had on this community and this nation.
The Survivor Wall, found at the east end of the Field of Empty Chairs, holds the names of over 600 individuals who survived the attack. Survivors include those who were in a one block radius surrounding the building. Those names are inscribed on four granite panels. Originally located in the lobby of the building the panels hang on one of two original walls remaining from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
The Murrah Plaza, part of the formal entry into the federal building, provides visitors with a sense of the 1970's design and architecture of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The plaza is preserved in as close to the original state as possible. Seals for each of each federal agency housed inside of the Murrah building were added to the floor of the plaza. Three flagpoles mark where the elevator shaft was located. A second American flag flies on the original Alfred P. Murrah flagpole.
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?
There are 168 empty “chairs” where the Alfred P. Murrah building once stood at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The 19 smaller chairs represent the children who were killed. More...