Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
On April 19, 1995, home militia whack Timothy McVeigh blew up a powerful homemade truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah federal office building in downtown Oklahoma City, bringing down a huge portion of the structure and killing 168. One of McVeigh's many beliefs was that federal workers, no matter how menial their post, were comparably evil to crew members on the Star Wars Death Star.
Five years after McVeigh's terrorist act, to the day, the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial was dedicated. Sandwiched between grim black stone "gates of time," one marked 9:01, the other 9:03 (the bomb went off at 9:02), the Memorial encompasses the grounds where the Murrah building once stood. A reflecting pool tactfully covers the street where the truck bomb was parked.
The "Field of Empty Chairs" marks the footprint of the building itself. The translucent chairs, representing each victim, are eerie -- by design -- and strike us as moving, but not comforting (and perhaps the mass modern descendant of the Davis Memorial's Vacant Chair?).
Fences surrounding the Memorial are regularly covered with impromptu mementos, then purged (60,000 items are reportedly in the Memorial archive). Across the street from the Memorial is a statue of a weeping Jesus, erected by a Methodist church damaged in the blast.
One of the indigenous landmarks of the Memorial is the 100-something-year-old "Survivor Tree," an American Elm that withstood the explosion and now stands overlooking the pool. It will one day become the "Survivor Stump," but by then its seeds, which are carefully harvested and planted every year, will have sprouted a successor.
The memorial's trademarked motto, "On American Soil," was meant to wake up visiting citizens when it was unveiled on April 19, 2000. But it only carried a punch for about 17 months.