|Oklahoma City Memorial|
Leaving Stafford, KS and the farm behind, Tim & I drove south to Dallas yesterday. There's a 2001 RV that we are serious about buying. However, before signing on the dotted line, Tim wants to have it inspected by the Dallas Prevost Service Center to see if everything is working as it should.
Along the way we stopped in downtown Oklahoma City to attend worship services at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, a church built in 1904 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Cathedral with its square Norman Tower, its gabled roof and its Tiffany stained glass windows was a triage station in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing.
On April 19, 1995, the compression wave from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building explosion lifted the roof of the cathedral and bowed out its walls. One section of the Celtic cross on top of its roof fell to the ground. That broken cross has become a symbol of the city, "a message," says The Reverend Canon Susan Joplin, "that even though destruction happens, grace and love have the final word.”
After services, Tim and I walked two blocks to the Oklahoma City National Memorial set on a grassy knoll where the Murrah Building once stood. There a quiet reflection pool is bracketed by the Gates of Time. The east gate has 9:01 engraved upon it; the west one reads 9:03. In between was the moment, 9:02 a.m., when the explosion occurred that forever changed this city and the nation.
Laid out in 9 rows for the 9 floors of the Murrah Building, the Field of Empty Chairs marks a metal chair for each of the 168 victims of the bombing.
Nineteen of those victims were young children who were in the building's day care center at the time of the blast. More than 650 people were injured in the bombing which damaged 300 buildings in the city's core. One can read their stories in the nearby museum.
The shock wave of the explosion shook not only the city, but the nation, especially in the early hours following the attack when the bombing was thought to be an act of international terrorism. Worried that the attackers could target President Bill Clinton and members of his cabinet, protection details for these leaders were increased. Particularly worrisome was the safety of the Attorney General since Tim McVeigh's motive for the bombing was to retaliate against the Department of Justice storming the Branch Davidian headquarters in Waco, TX. My husband Tim was one of the FBI agents who, for the next three months, escorted Attorney General Janet Reno everywhere she went.
The Survivor Tree, an American Elm, withstood the full force of the attack and though it leans at an odd angle, it still stands today as a symbol of resilience. Like the tree, Oklahoma City and its residents were bowed by the blast but they remain steadfast. I'm praying that Paris will do the same.