18 October 2010

A Mixed Bag

19 Oct 2010--Headed to downtown Oklahoma City (OKC) yesterday, primarily to see the memorial to the victims of the federal building bombing back in 1995, but also got to see a good part of the city just walking around.

Downtown OKC reminded us very much of San Antonio, but newer. They have an area they call the Bricktown Entertainment District, which includes the Bricktown Canal...it is only about 8 years in the making, and they are modeling it after the River Walk in San Antonio. You can see from the map in pic 2 that the river goes thru the downtown, and the other pics show how most of the buildings/roads/sidewalks are made of brick. They have a minor league baseball team with its ballpark smack-dab in the middle of downtown, and also have a free trolley service that goes thru the area.

We opted to walk, so from Bricktown we headed over to the OKC National Memorial, commemorating the events of Apr 1995 when Tim McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in downtown OKC, killing 168 people and injuring 700. I was somewhat taken by surprise at how sad this made me feel. All I knew about the memorial was that they had "Empty Chairs" on display depicting the people who had died, so I wasn't expecting much more than that.
This is the plaza leading up to the memorial.

Before and after pics. The plaza is in the front of the 1st pic.

As we left the plaza and continued on to the memorial area, I was hit by this scene. Cathy said she had seen this on the TV show "Saving Grace", but I don't watch that show so I was totally surprised by it. You see this stuff at almost all tragedies these days, but this still being here 15 years after the fact really took me by surprise and made me feel sadder than I expected to feel. The stuffed animals are a killer.

Just across the street from the memorial is a Catholic Church, and they placed this statue in remembrance of the event. The wall at Jesus' left elbow is part of the memorial.

We still haven't gotten to the actual memorial when we see the museum. I felt like "Sybil" at this point, both happy and sad at what the kids had to say. I really liked the one with the band-aid by the 12 year old.

The museum has 2 full floors, with about 95% of it dedicated to the bombing, but this area talked about terrorist incidents in the US in the 10 years prior to the OKC bombing. Every state in yellow had some type of incident between 1985 and 1995. I just copied these ones here from Massachusetts, Texas, Florida...and then California.

The chaos of the event was very much captured by the way the curators laid out the museum, both visually and auditorally (word?). It starts out as a minute by minute, and then hour by hour play-by-play of everything that was going on that day and the next few days of rescues. Over loud speakers you can hear the national news media on TV and radio, as you look at written and physical displays, tv screens of the rescues, and victims talking about what they experienced. I actually stopped taking pics within a few minutes of being in there, and it wasn't long after that I had to stop reading most of the stuff. It was very emotional, just too sad.
The shoes might actually have been the last of victims pics I could take. The blinds are from a building 1-2 blocks away from the blast.

When McVeigh was caught he was held here at the base we are staying at, at a secure location (along with Dick Cheney, I guess!) haha

Some interesting political cartoons of the day. The 3rd one talks about "hate, fear, anger"...reminds me in many ways of what is going on today. And the last one is aimed at the militias in the country...on the rise again in this country as we speak.

Finally we got outside where the memorial is. At opposite ends of the pool are walls depicting the time before and after the blast, with the pool representing the street where McVeigh parked his truck with the explosives and the time it went off.

As you look at the middle picture the Field of Empty Chairs is to your right. This is the spot where the Federal Building once stood. Every chair has a victim's name on it, and the small chairs represent a child that was killed at the daycare center in the building. The only other time I remember being this moved by a memorial is when I went to Dachau Concentration Camp when I was stationed in Germany. Both places were really depressing.

On a lighter note, as we headed back to Bricktown we decided to stop at Toby Keith's restaurant on the Canal. I have mentioned before that he is not my favorite country star, but we stopped here for 2 reasons anyway. First, we know that Ellen really likes him, and secondly he gives all military people a one-time deal of a free cheeseburger and fries!! haha We were really hungry, so we went for it.
We got the special, with the "Freedom Fries" from the side item menu. I think even the Congress calls them french fries again, don't they!? Anyway, Toby has 8-10 of these restaurants at different places around the country, so no flies on him. Here are a few pics for you, Ellen.

At the very end of the Canal they have a memorial to the Land Run of 1889. I feel like this must have been a blast to take part in.

I said earlier that OKC has a "new" feel to it, and this is an example of its newness. This monument wasn't established until 2007, the centenial of Oklahoma statehood. I don't know if anything was here before, but this is pretty cool. I love the pic with the cowboy losing his hat and the dog running along...it seemed so real.

So as the title would suggest, the day was a mixed bag. OKC seems very new, clean and a place that is very optomistic for its future. On the other hand, it had a horrible event in the past that could not be more chillingly captured by the museum and memorial established in its wake. Interesting day.


  1. Marie wins (&you come in 2nd) haha. I was referring to the movie and was seeking to learn who would know Shirley's last name. It was intended to be like a contest.

  2. Are you 2 crazy!!!??? Of course I knew it was about the movie...I am the one who named the blog after the movie..or didn't you 2 get it!? You guys scare me sometimes!!!

  3. how was the burger and fries? I like the river running through the town, not as pretty as San Antonio. love ya

  4. Wow, it's kind of sad just reading the stuff on the bombing. I love those sculptures, there are so many of them. I'd like to see those in person. Maybe once I get an RV :).

  5. I love the first 2 political cartoons regarding the OKC bombing.

  6. This mad me sad and at the same time made me laugh. Anytime OK is mentioned I can see my brother Donnie practicing his dancing (he was awful) in front of us for the OK play at St. Augustine's. Paula I did see some of this memorial on TV. You did a much better job.

  7. First, I think the family needs to stop fighting on the blog!haha
    Great job Paula, I went to Drachau too, very depressing so I would probably skip this if I ever got out there in the future, I could just say, I have already seen it thru my sister's blog.

  8. I remember walking around the fence and reading the notes and seeing all the thinks on the fence and tears running down my face. It was a sad feeling and a memory you don't forget.

  9. Patti, the mental pic of Donnie dancing to "OK" is a funny one. And Carol, I couldn't even read the stuff...I felt mentally assaulted by it all.

  10. Bricktown is lovely. Lots of color, real festive looking. Loved the pics of the wagons etc but for the rest pretty depressing.

  11. i love those drawings they are AWESOME!!

  12. I am glad you liked them Emily!