Back in the summer of 1995, our family of four headed west from Ohio for a three-week camping vacation. (Real camping in a tent, not our current faux camping in an RV!)
We made an unplanned stop in Oklahoma City to see the site of the bombing, which had happened just two months previously. We worried a bit that it was vulture-ish or voyeuristic, but it ended up feeling respectful, if emotionally wrenching.
In the weeks and months following the bombing, thousands of visitors stopped to pay their respects, leaving notes, flowers, stuffed animals and photographs along the chain link fence surrounding the rubble. Although there were hundreds there the day we visited, the crowd was silent and the grief visible.
Without asking or drawing attention to the act, our 9 year old son removed the WWJD bracelet he had not taken off for more than a year and tied it to the fence
During our visit in 1995 we noticed a church across the street from the bomb site. In the yard stood a large statue of Jesus, his back to the devastation, a hand over his grieving face. Eerie.
The statue is still there today, but its surroundings have changed to incorporate it into a remarkably beautiful and well designed memorial park.
The architects tried to capture time and space in the design. I think they were successful. Here is their description:
Gates of Time These monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 a.m. – and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East Gate represents 9:01 a.m. on April 19, and the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate represents 9:03 a.m., the moment we were changed forever, and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing.