It’s hard to believe that the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building was 21 years ago. A few weeks after the bombing, I happened to be driving cross-country and stopped at the site. It was fresh. The chain linked fence was covered with flowers, stuffed animals, flags and notes. The gaping wound in the building revealed a tangle of steel and iron and concrete. The surrounding buildings were damaged. The streets were still dusty from debris and the city was still in shock.
Twenty years ago, the site really affected me.
I was interested in seeing what it looked like now. OKC is a nice Mid-West city: friendly people, quiet and pretty. We googled a great coffee shop, found Vintage Coffee and headed to 5th Street and the site of the now former Murrah Federal Building.
There is a wall at each end of the reflecting pool. One says 9:01 and the other says 9:03. The bombing occurred at 9:02.
A man told me the 9:01 wall represented the time before the bomb and how life was, and the 9:03 wall represented how the city has survived after. In between, they honor the tragedy with calm water and silence.
Pain is still palpable at the site. In twenty years, and considering all the bombings since, we may have forgotten this one just a little.
This is why it’s good to travel and take the winding roads, not only through the country, but to the people who make up the places far from our own home — to get some perspective on other lives.
Thank you OKC. It was an honor to visit you again.