We left Memphis, Tennessee with a mission, to drive the southern route, attempt to see the Ozarks along the way, and try to pull into Santa Fe, New Mexico around 3am the next day. All day in the car. It was a aggressive traveling schedule, but seeing as our goal was Boise for the game on Friday between Wyoming and Central Michigan University – our respective alma maters battling it out in the Idaho Potato Bowl – we knew that we needed to get going.
After a failed attempt to see the Ozarks along I-40, a interesting conversation about how one would eat a 72oz steak to get it for free (there’s a place outside Amarillo if you’re interested, FYI), me working from the car, a number of This American Life’s, and the constant playing of Ninjago on the TV for the kids, we decided to pull into Oklahoma City to visit the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. Seeing as we started the day at the location where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, it was fitting to visit the memorial that night to understand another moment in our nations history.
The memorial is located right in the center of Oklahoma City and is an absolutely spectacular tribute to the victims and to the city. The bombing occurred at 9:02am, so on one side of the memorial is a giant gate displaying 9:01, then in the middle about the size of about a football field is a reflection pool and memorial chairs for each of the victims, and then on opposite side of the reflection pool, another gate with 9:03. The 9:01 represents the innocence of before the event, the reflection pool and memorial chairs the actual moment of the bombing and the 9:03 is moment healing began. The entire transition. Sobering and stunning and reflective at the same time.
One of our big family values is understanding our history and its effect on people and places in current day society. That said, we spent a considerable amount of time talking to Graydon about the bombing. About the terrorists who killed almost 200 people, 19 of them children. We talked about how one’s ideals, whether the bombers or the man that killed Dr. King, can sometimes overwhelm people to make really bad decisions – with hate in their hearts instead of disagreement with understanding.
Walking through the memorial, the reflective pool was on one side and the chairs were on another and the foundation of original building walls surrounded two sides of the site. Made of marble, each of the chairs has a name carved on them, scattered through on a row representing the nine floors of the building that came down. The childrens chairs were smaller than the adults, a symbol of lives lost that day.
Personally, Joe and I are grateful that we made the effort to see the memorial. It would have been very easy to simply blow by Oklahoma City, but moments like this are important to us and hopefully will have a lasting impact on the character of the type of kids we want to raise.