During our recent trip to OKC, on the itinerary was a trip to the Oklahoma City Memorial. If you’ll recall, I once wrote an extensive graduate paper on terrorism. My field of study. The paper was submitted electronically and earned me a lot of attention. By attention I mean it was embargoed by the federal government and multiple three-letter agencies, never returned to either my professor or self, and I was investigated. On the bright side, I got an A before my professor ever received it and the joke is it ended up on (then) President Obama’s desk. Anyway… I’ve always wanted to visit.
Not only is it a uniquely designed memorial, but also a touching testimony to survivors and the families of those lost. No matter what damage was done that day, people all over the world have an opportunity to pay their respects. Photos online do not begin to compare to the solemn reverence of this memorial. Mini was intrigued by the chairs – big for adults, small for children.
I wasn’t prepared for the emotions to overwhelm me. I really had no reason to not be able to speak around my tears – at the time, we lived hundreds of miles away. Yet watching it on television in 1995 (I was 9 yrs old) is an engraved photo in my mind, but it does nothing to prep your heart for the magnitude of 168 lives needlessly lost. 168. Many other tragedies since easily surpass that number. But it’s people. And no number of people killed due to acts of terrorism is acceptable.
Again, the photos here do no justice to the emotional journey of looking at mementos left on the fence once used to guard the damaged building after it was bombed. Or how it feels to touch the granite wall of children’s hand prints created by children from multiple states in response to hearing of the children whom would never come home. My collegiate career focused on the acts themselves, the mindset of the guilty, the way it has played into future events; my publications didn’t address the emotions or the very real loss. Interestingly, this is common in people who study subjects considered unempathetic, like child abuse, law enforcement, or terrorism. There’s a switch that must be deactivated. I can’t imagine what it must be like to visit the 9/11 Memorial.
All this being said, hug your kids tighter, say a few extra I love you’s, and visit places you’ve always wanted to see. As I get older, I’m appreciating history more and more. Probably because I know one day we all will be history ourselves.
I ask you –
Have you been to the OKC Memorial or 9/11 Memorial?
What’s the chance this very post will be flagged before publication? Listen, I don’t have time to plead my case.
Name a place you’d like to visit.