I wanted to see the survivor tree at the memorial plaza of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building, the site of the Oklahoma City bombing. This tree was buried under the rubble of the building debris that fell April 19, 1995. This American Elm tree showed signs of life when it was uncovered by the clean up workers months after the bombing. A sign of life so significant that it inspired so many then and continues yet today. It is in the center of a plaza space to representing regrowth and healing.
This was my goal, to see this tree. I had no idea how much more there was to see. The gates of time bookend a reflecting pool that symbolizes life in this arid climate. The time of this event is marked in each end gate. Life changed between 9:01 and 9:03 that April morning.
A field of 168 empty chairs represents the lives lost as a result of this senseless bombing. The chairs are arrange to represent the 9 floors of the Murrah building and the impact of the bomb. There are 19 small chairs representing the children killed in the child care center in the building. It is a somber, significant space. It leaves unanswered the question of how anyone could be filled with such anger and fury that would cause them to bomb a public building that killed so many ordinary people going about their precious lives.
The entry gate is imprinted with these words “We come here to remember those who were killed. Those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.” To these words I will add this thought. Will this National memorial be one of the 300 which may be closed as a result of the proposed budget cuts that are to go into effect as a result of the stalemate in our Federal government?