A Minute of Changed Perception

There have been some sites that are absolutely sobering, and the Murrah Building is one of them.

Our somber visit started on top of the framework of the former Murrah Building. A reflecting pool represents the building and bronze chairs sit idle to represent each of the 168 people who perished the morning of what is now known as the Oklahoma City Bombing. Two tall, dark walls stand sentry at each end of the reflecting pool. One emblazoned with “9:01” and the second, furthest from the front of the building “9:03” on the opposing wall.

At 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, a tremendously powerful car bomb, parked outside the building ripped the entre front of the structure away. The numbers represent the minutes before and following the explosion. At 9:01, Oklahomans lived in an entirely different environment – some might describe it as naïve, innocent perhaps. But by 9:03, our perspective on almost everything had changed.

Inside the building next door, the museum begins. We bought our tickets and took the elevator to the third floor. The two levels take you through the moments immediately following the bombing, media reports, the FBI’s investigation and more.

The dimly-lit, solemn memorials and the stark facts and stories displayed throughout the museum, bring home the full impact this attack had on this previously secluded, and “safe” Midwestern town.

One woman described a meeting inside the building that morning. When the bomb went off at 9:02 a.m., her employees disappeared along with the wall, windows, doors and conference room table never to be seen again. She had a small tear in her dress, but was otherwise unhurt – a shocking testament to the indiscriminate nature of the attack.

After visiting the museum, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. I purchased a book about the investigation of the bombing to learn a little more about the perpetrators – Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. It is now known that McVeigh, a US Army veteran and primary planner, chose April 19 for the attack, which represented the two-year anniversary of the incident in Waco, TX in which McVeigh thought the government overstepped its bounds in using force against David Koresh’s religious encampment known as the Davidians.

They spent almost a year collecting the core components needed for the fertilizer bomb. McVeigh picked the Murrah building since many of the government departments involved in the raid in Waco had offices located there. He also thought the north wall which was primarily windows would offer a more stark result, and believed the employees who worked for the government were evil.

Even after nearly 2 decades, the event has reverberated as the moment that Americans began to feel less safe.

Definitely a worthy stop if you are in Oklahoma City – click here for more information.