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Oklahoma City National Memorial: Sad Instance of Terrorism in the U.S.

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oklahoma City National Memorial

A singular act of homegrown terrorism marked Oklahoma City forever on April 19, 1995. Now the Oklahoma City National Memorial stands as a testament to the bravery and resilience exhibited by the people who survived, those who sadly died, and the rescuers who stood in that path of horror created in one flash of a moment.

One can almost become numbed by listening to the news regarding acts of horrific terrorism all across the world on a semi-regular basis. It is somehow different when viewing first-hand what remains after a homegrown act of terrorism that killed and injured hundreds of people. It leaves a footprint in the mind and soul of all the many lives impacted that eventful day.

September 11, 2001, was the fateful event that has been seared into most people's minds worldwide. Foreign terrorists flew airplanes into the twin towers in New York, the Pentagon and attempted even further destruction, but for the brave souls aboard one of the hijacked planes who thwarted their efforts. The death toll that day was astounding!

Most of the world was still reeling in shock over that event when my mother and I were on our way to visit relatives in Iowa. It was about a month later. We decided to stop off and pay a visit to the site of the worst terrorist attack on American soil before the monstrous acts of 9/11 to pay our respects.

Walking through the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Memorial Center one bright October day in that same year of 2001, what we saw is stamped upon our memories forever.

Good Versus Evil

Good as well as evil, live side by side in this world. That embodiment of good or evil inside of only one person can work to effect substantial change for the betterment of life on this planet or work to create immense havoc and destruction.

One example of good and the effects of one person's efforts would be Mother Teresa. Most people are familiar with her, working and living among the poor and the good that she accomplished in her lifetime.

One such incarnation of evil known as Timothy McVeigh got the death penalty because of these atrocities. He decided to kill innocent people one fine morning of April 19, 1995, at 9:02 AM. He, and his co-conspirator Terry Nichols, knew the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City would be full of people. They were staffing offices, some were visiting the building, and others had gone to work that day doing various jobs.

These were both American men who had grown up surrounded with many of the same experiences many of us have and a value system most of us hold dear. These two unhappy and misguided individuals who decided to express themselves with this horrendous act of violence will probably give criminal psychologists subject matter to study for years to come.

The Memorial Fence and east Gate of Time at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

The Memorial Fence and east Gate of Time at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Lest We Forget

3.3 acres in downtown Oklahoma City, are now designated as Memorial grounds, which includes the area where the Murrah Federal Building once stood.

Damage occurred to hundreds of other buildings that April day when the truck filled with a 5,000-pound bomb of explosives tore apart the Murrah building killing 168 people, 19 of whom were children. There was a daycare located inside that building. More than 700 other people were injured.

Thousands of rescue workers and volunteers swarmed into the area to do what they could to save lives and salvage what remained.

The Memorial Center is so touching! It is hard for mere words to do it justice.

It took about five years to be developed and consists of part of the original chain link fencing adjacent to a new exterior wall that originally marked off the blast area. People continue to hang stuffed animals and attach photos, letters, and forms of remembrance to that fencing, which we passed on our way into the center of the Memorial grounds.

Gates of Time

There are two Gates of Time standing sentry and from which one can enter the grounds. One has the time 9:01 and the other, 9:03, symbolizing the time before the earth-shattering event and the minute after it had exploded, changing lives forever at precisely 9:02 AM.

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A 318-foot reflection pool delineates the space with the peaceful sound and looks of water.


An 80-year-old American Elm tree that survived the blast has an inscription at its base that reads: "The spirit of this city and nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us."

This Survivor Tree had shards and remnants of what had spewed forth from that fatal blast that sad day. Like the other 800 plus human survivors, it is a living symbol of beauty despite its scars and stands as a sign of resilience to what evil forces had accomplished.

A Survivor Chapel and a Rescuers Orchard honor those who lived and helped others to live. Inscribed upon large pieces of granite recovered from the Murrah Building are those survivor names.

The Survivor Tree and Rescuers' Orchard

The Survivor Tree and Rescuers' Orchard

Interactive Site

Children of all ages can leave messages onto the embedded chalkboards in the ground. There are hand-painted tiles sent by children also adorning this area on the northwest corner of the memorial.

The Memorial Museum is an interactive one and is housed in the west end of the former Journal Record Building just north of the Memorial site. The Journal Record Building originates from 1923 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Journal Record Building

Journal Record Building

The Chairs

By far, the part of the Memorial grounds that left my mother and me with lumps in our throats was viewing the 168 glass, bronze, and granite chairs that sit empty and represent each of the lost lives that fateful day.

Each of them is similar in appearance, but each is also slightly different in proportion representing the individuality of the people killed so heartlessly that day. Each chair bears the name of a person who died inside the Murrah Federal Building. The 19 smaller children's chairs are poignant to view.

Was one of those children the one who might have cured cancer? Was another child the one who would have advanced the goal of curing worldwide hunger? These and other questions we shall never have answered.

The illuminated glass portions of the chairs shine at night.

My Prayer

Somber reverence permeates the Oklahoma City National Memorial. It memorializes those lives lost that day as well as those who survived. One does not have to know someone killed or personally affected by this tragedy to be impacted by this site.

It is hard to portray the range of emotions one has when standing in a memorial area like this one in Oklahoma City. My mother and I were overwhelmed with feelings which at times spilled over onto our faces with tears streaming down our cheeks. We saw other people dabbing at their faces.

My prayer is that we do not become so used to hearing about such violence that it ceases to touch us deeply. It is too easy to think that other people or cultures are at fault and that we can turn a deaf ear. No one is immune from this kind of evil, as this act of homegrown terrorism confirmed. Let's find better ways of communicating and sharing differences and form more peaceful resolutions.

Location of Oklahoma City National Memorial


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 02, 2021:

Hi Amy,

Visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial is heart-wrenching. It is a sad indictment of humanity that acts of terrorism continue to this day. Thanks for the virtual visit to this site.

Amy on March 01, 2021:

Such a moving and powerful memorial to the terrible tragedy in Oklahoma City. I recall watching the TV coverage in stunned silence.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 17, 2013:

Hi moonlake,

It was very emotional for my mother and me to experience being at the memorial that has been erected in Oklahoma City even though we did not personally know anyone who was killed on that day. It just seems so senseless as are all such acts of terror. Now Boston will be added to the list as was New York...each on different days for those horrific acts of terror. My heart goes out to everyone affected in the case of basically the world. We had marathon runners from all over the world in Boston on the 15th when those homemade bombs exploded killing 3 and injuring over 170+ people. So sad to think that there are people in the world that can hate that much!

moonlake from America on April 17, 2013:

I remember the day of the Oklahoma terrorist

bombing. My husband always called me in the morning before going on his mail route. I told him some building had fallen down in Oklahoma never thinking it would be from a bomb. I will never understand home grown terrorist and how they can hate their own country and people. Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 12, 2012:

Hi Cheryl,

This is so true! My mother and I had the biggest lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes when viewing this memorial in Oklahoma City. Such useless violence with so many innocent lives lost on that terrible day. Appreciate your comment.

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on June 11, 2012:

A wonderful and emotional hub on Homegrown-Terrorism. Oklahoma City will always be memoralized with candles, flowers, memories and lots of tears. Awesome hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 17, 2011:

Hello missolive,

It would be hard to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial without being overwhelmed with feelings and emotions. Seeing those small chairs mingled with the larger ones representing the children who died is so touching. That memorial and all memorials elsewhere stand as reminders that terrorism anywhere is horrible and senseless. Thanks for your comment.

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on October 17, 2011:

Peggy - Thank you for keeping this on the forefront. I visited the Memorial last Fall and there are truly no words to describe the vibe and emotions one feels. You have done an amazing job with your words, pictures and video. MissOlive

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 10, 2010:

Hello Urbane Chaos,

Thanks! Your hub about the Oklahoma City National Memorial is also great and I have included it as a link between some of the photos so that it would stand out. Let us pray that we put an end to homegrown and ALL terrorism worldwide. It is so senseless!

Eric Standridge from Oklahoma on December 09, 2010:

Really, really great article! It still takes my breath away everytime I see those pictures.. I couldn't imagine being at work and simply going about my business and then something like that happening. I remember watching all the events unfold as I sat stunned on my couch. It truely is a day that we'll never forget.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 19, 2010:

Hello christalluna1124,

I'll tell you what... When you visit this Oklahoma City Memmorial regarding the cowardly act of terrorism and the results of innocent lives lost...the tears will flow even more. It is so very moving. Terrorism of any kind is absolutely terrible but to think that this was of a homegrown nature somehow makes it even worse. Our enemies are the demons in some people's souls. Nice to find your comment here.

christalluna1124 from Dallas Texas on January 19, 2010:

Peggy, What a beautiful and touching tribute. I hope to visit and pay my respects on day. Your article touches my very soul and the pictures made the tears flow down my face as they did the day I saw it on tv.

warmest regards,


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 24, 2009:

Hello Zollstock,

I can truthfully understand your wanting to protect your children from the evil facts of life as long as you can. Soon enough they will be exposed to terrorism whether they catch glimpses of it on the news, in newspapers or hearing about it from their friends or teachers in school.

As to your last question regarding the prevention of human violence on small or large scales...that it the eternal hope of those who would like to see peace.

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Zollstock from Germany originally, now loving the Pacific NW on July 23, 2009:

Moving, thought-provoking, awareness-raising. Thanks so much for writing about this - I wasn't on this side of the ocean yet when it happened, and it is good for me to have that knowledge now. Whether I could take my children to see the memorial is another matter - your hub makes me question how much I want to educate vs protect them. Can human violence be prevented, on a large and a small scale?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2009:

Hello swathin2,

Yes, I agree that terrorism hurts everyone from the source to the victims. No good comes from it. Thanks for your input into this discussion.

swathin2 on July 20, 2009:

terrorism is a major threat to one and all and ti destroys the country a lot. people think that they are doing some favor to their country but with this kind of approach they are not doing favor but destroying the good name of the country

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2009:

Hi Shirley,

It is no wonder that Mother Teresa was sainted.

Thanks for the compliment on my homegrown terrorism hub. Yes, my intent on writing it was to hopefully effect peace...not the opposite.

Thanks for your comment!

Shirley Anderson from Ontario, Canada on July 18, 2009:

Such mindless violence saddens my soul to its very core.

You spoke of Mother Teresa whom I think I respect more than anyone else in history. She was always 'for' something and against nothing. An well-known example is when she was asked to march in a protest against war. She refused, saying that she would march FOR peace but not AGAINST war. I think that she had the right idea to focus on what you want instead of feeding what you don't want. I have a feeling that it might work better.

You've written a great hub here, Peggy. I hope people really read and 'get' your message.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2009:

Hello again Aya,

I did not even know that a "sealed search warrant" was possible. An oxymoron for sure!

While you may not have all the facts of the case, since you were involved in a peaceful protest at the site, you were certainly following it more closely than the rest of us.

I would look forward to reading your hub about it from your perspective if you ever decide to write one.

Open discussions of events and ideas can only help to educate people and hopefully make things better for the future.

Thank you very much for your part in this.

Aya Katz from The Ozarks on July 18, 2009:

Peggy W, there was a sealed search warrant. What does this mean? That a Federal judge saw it and a prosecutor saw it, but no representative of the Branch Davidians nor any member of the general public was allowed to see it -- until the siege ended, by which time almost everybody involved was dead.

I would hardly say that I have "all the facts" about that case. I did follow it closely at the time, and I was involved in a peaceful protest close to the site.

I may do a hub about it sometime, but I'm not ready yet...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2009:

Hi Aya,

I think that you are certainly raising awareness of civil liberties with your responses to this homegrown terrorism hub.

No search warrant? Amazing! If that is the fact, then I wonder on what basis this all transpired? Especially if local charges against polygamy, etc. were dismissed...

If you have all the facts of the case, perhaps you should do a hub regarding this.

Aya Katz from The Ozarks on July 18, 2009:

Peggy W, the question about Mt. Carmel is not whether the charges were trumped up so much as was there due process?

The answer: no there wasn't.

The Branch Davidians were not presented with a search warrant. Instead, Military style Federal troops (ATF first, later to be joined by FBI) stormed the compound without notice. This violates constitutional provisions against illegal search and seizure.

The Federal government has no jurisdiction in cases of polygamy, child molestation, and other domestic matters. The local authorities had already investigated Koresh and found nothing to prosecute.

As for the charges of illegal weapons, they were NEVER verified. There were stockpiles of legal weapons on the premises. No illegal weapons were ever found there.