Oklahoma City National Memorial is a memorial in the United States that honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. The memorial is located in downtown Oklahoma City on the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed in the 1995 bombing. This building was located on NW 5th Street between N. Robinson Avenue and N. Harvey Avenue.
The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terroristtruck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States, on Wednesday, April 19, 1995. Perpetrated by anti-government extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing happened at 9:02 am and killed at least 168 people, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed more than one-third of the building, which had to be demolished.
The national memorial was authorized on October 9, 1997, by President Bill Clinton's signing of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Act of 1997. It was administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Places the same day. The memorial is administered by Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation, with National Park Service staff to help interpret the memorial for visitors.
The memorial was formally dedicated on April 19, 2000: the fifth anniversary of the bombing. The museum was dedicated and opened the following year on February 19.
The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial consists of the following segments on 3.3 acres and are accessible day or night.
The Gates of Time: Monumental twin bronze gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 – and mark the formal entrances to the Outdoor Memorial. 9:01, found on the eastern gate, represents the last moments of peace, while its opposite on the western gate, 9:03, represents the first moments of recovery.
Reflecting Pool: A thin layer of water flows over polished black granite to form the pool, which runs east to west down the center of the Memorial (also see reflecting pool) on what was once Fifth Street.
Field of Empty Chairs: 168 empty chairs hand-crafted from glass, bronze, and stone represent those who lost their lives, with a name etched in the glass base of each. They sit on the site where the Murrah Buildingonce stood. The chairs are arranged in nine rows to symbolize the nine floors of the building; each person's chair is on the row (or the floor) on which the person worked or was located when the bomb went off.
Survivors' Wall: The only remaining original portions of the Murrah Building are the north and east walls, known as the Survivors' Wall. The wall has several panels of granite salvaged from the Murrah Building itself, inscribed with the names of more than 600 survivors from the building and the surrounding area, many of whom were injured in the blast.
Survivor Tree: An American elm on the north side of the Memorial that was heavily damaged by the bomb, but survived. Hundreds of seeds from the Survivor Tree are planted annually and the resulting saplings are distributed each year on the anniversary of the bombing.
The Memorial Fence: A 10-foot-tall (3.0 m) chain link fence was installed around the area that is now the Reflecting Pool and the Field of Empty Chairs to protect the site from damage and visitors from injury. The Fence stood for more than four years, becoming notable as the place where visitors left stuffed animals, poems, keychains, and other items as tributes. During the construction of the Outdoor Memorial, 210 feet of the Fence was moved to the west side of the Memorial, along the 9:03 side or the 'healing' side.
Rescuers' Orchard: A grove of Oklahoma redbuds (Oklahoma's state tree), Amur Maple, Chinese Pistache, and Bosque Elmtrees are planted on the lawn around the Survivor Tree. The trees represent the rescuers who came to the aid of the survivors; hence the rescuer's orchard surrounds the survivor tree.
Children's Area: More than 5,000 hand-painted tiles, from all over the United States and Canada, were made by children and sent to Oklahoma City after the bombing in 1995. Most are stored in the Memorial's Archives, and a sampling of tiles is on the wall in the Children's Area. Chalkboards provide a place where children can draw and share their feelings. The Children's Area is north of the 9:03 gate, on the west side of the Museum.
Journal Record Building: North of the memorial is the Journal Record Building, which formerly housed the offices of The Journal Record. It now houses the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, which features numerous exhibits and artifacts related to the Oklahoma City bombing.
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Plaza: Located just south of the Field of Empty Chairs, above the underground parking garage, is the raised Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Plaza. An original part of the federal building, the plaza had a garden and seating areas, as well as a playground for the daycare center. Visitors to the Memorial can walk across the plaza, where the original flagpole is used for the American flag.
This is a somber place to visit but a must-see location if you are near Oklahoma City. The memorial is managed by the National Park Service. A visit to the museum and surrounding memorial is the only way to truly comprehend the experience of what happened in 1995. There is a fee to enter the museum but it’s worth every penny.
Oklahoma City National Memorial 301 NW 6th Street, Suite 305 Oklahoma City, OK 73102-0676
Phone: (405) 609-8859