This is the memorial site of the Oklahoma City bombing, 20 years ago tomorrow. While driving yesterday, I looked up everything we wanted to do, and this was first on our list. Dan and I had been here in 1997 when it was a huge hole in the ground surrounded by a chain link fence that was filled with mementos. We wanted to come back and pay our respects again and show the kids what volunteers had accomplished in rebuilding the area and memorial. Needless to say, the mood was somber and respectful, even with the tv vans, cables and tv people all over the grounds. We could tell there were already many of the survivor’s relatives here.
The site itself is so well done. The chairs are to represent each person who died, with their names engraved on the bottom glass portion, and they light up at night. The chairs are in rows representing what floor each person was on. The reflecting pool has the huge black walls at either end, and my favorite is the one in this picture. The one to my left says 9:01, the time the bomb went off. The one pictured here says 9:03, the time their world was changed forever. What came out of it, however, is so much more of a story than I could explain here. They call it the Oklahoma City Standard now – the people who flooded the blood banks, the men who pulled up to the work site and took off their work boots, the volunteers who worked countless hours searching for survivors and then bodies for their loved ones. They did it with hope and hard work and donations from all over the country. The difference between here and New Orleans was stark. Everything I read about here included God, as opposed to the aftermath of Katrina where the words “graft” and “corruption” and “the government’s fault” popped up continuously.
After we negotiated the police, Swat and Army vehicles that were all over the area, we drove to the state capitol and found this cool artwork on the grounds – it’s an Apache Man from the Warm Springs tribe. We have the Warm Springs Reservation just outside our home in Bend, so it was nice to see. And we saw a lot of the grounds because we couldn’t find the door to get in! Of course, we went right instead of left and then almost missed it again because it’s underground. It’s the only capitol we’ve seen with an oil well pumping station right on the grounds.
I’ve become a little obsessed with domes since the first one in Sacramento, and this one did not disappoint. They just added it in 2012, after years of a flat top capitol and not enough money to finish the original plans. They had art work all over inside, and the marble staircases were gorgeous. And I finally learned what a Sooner was! From the land rush/grab of 1889, if you got there “sooner” you got better property. Oklahoma City grew by 10,000 people that day!
I’m not sure where the funding came from for the capitol, however, because everything I’ve read about the schools here indicates they have no funding. They spent over $1.2 billion on downtown, but the closest school had to close because they couldn’t get the air conditioning and heating fixed to be habitable for the kids. Their scores are among the lowest in the nation and they are just starting the conversation about charter schools. Maybe they can figure out how to bring the Oklahoma City Standard to their schools.
The rest of our week here has been as busy as the first day. We bought a new printer at the Apple store, only to have Eliza’s computer crash that night, so we bought a new computer the next day. We shopped for interview clothes for me, school clothes for Eliza, and then groceries from good ol’ Walmart because now we know our way around and its not as scary as some grocery stores we’ve been in lately. We utilized two different libraries for school, with our favorite being a new one 23 minutes away that had 4 fake oil rigs coming out of the roof and dinosaurs all over outside for kids to climb upon. Not our kids,I wish, but little kids! Our RV park has all 150 sites full, and they are building 50 more, so the place is a zoo. We were so excited to get here because it had a pool – which has had a delayed opening due to the weather. Yes, the weather. Don’t get me started on the weather! We haven’t had hail hit the rig, whew.