The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a memorial in the United States that honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. The memorial is located in downtown Oklahoma City on the former site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed in the 1995 bombing.
The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial consists of several segments on 3.3 acres (13,000 m2); it can be visited 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Three of the segments can be seen in my photograph here.
- The Gates of Time: Monumental twin bronze gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 – and mark the formal entrances to the Outdoor Memorial. 9:01, found on the eastern gate, represents the last moments of peace, while its opposite on the western gate, 9:03, represents the first moments of recovery. Both time stamps are inscribed on the interior of the monument, facing each other and the Reflecting Pool.
- Reflecting Pool: A thin layer of water flows over polished black granite to form the pool, which runs east to west down the center of the Memorial on what was once Fifth Street. Visitors seeing their reflections are seeing “someone changed forever by what happened here.”
- Field of Empty Chairs: 168 empty chairs hand-crafted from glass, bronze, and stone represent those who lost their lives, with a name etched in the glass base of each. They sit on the site where the Murrah Building once stood. The chairs represent the empty chairs at the dinner tables of the victims’ families. The chairs are arranged in nine rows to symbolize the nine floors of the building; each person’s chair is on the row (or the floor) on which the person worked or was located when the bomb went off. The chairs are also grouped according to the blast pattern, with the most chairs nearest the most heavily damaged portion of the building. The westernmost column of five chairs represents the five people who died but were not in the Murrah Building (two in the Water Resources Board building, one in the Athenian Building, one outside near the building, and one rescuer). The 19 smaller chairs represent the children killed in the bombing. Three unborn children died along with their mothers, and they are listed on their mothers’ chairs beneath their mothers’ names.