Monday, April 19, 2010

15 Years Ago.....

St. Joseph's Old Cathedral
"And Jesus Wept"

St. Joseph's is one of the oldest mortar and brick churches in the city and was almost destroyed in the blast.  Even though this statute is not associated with the memorial, the statute of Jesus Weeping reminds us of the devastation caused on that horriable day that took so many lives from us.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh entered Oklahoma City at 8:50 am CST.  By 9:00, Oklahoma City would be brought to it's knee's.

Timothy McVeigh had planted a bomb inside a Ryder Truck which contained 4,800 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture.  The bomb would be detonated in front of the north side of the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Timothy McVeigh was not the only participating party in this.  Also involved was Terry Nichols,

Terry Nichols would actually stand trial twice for his unspeakable crimes.  The federal government tried him first in 1997.  He was found quilty of "conspiring to build a weapon of mass destruction" and eight counts of "involuntary manslaughter of federal officers".  Terry was sentenced to life without the chance of parole on 4 June 1998.  Then in 2000, the State of Oklahoma would get it's chance.... they sought the death-penalty on 161 counts of first-degree murder (160 non-federal agents and one fetus).  On May 26, 2004 a jury of his peers would find him quilty of all counts, but could not agree on the death-penalty issue.  Judge Steven W. Taylor, presiding judge would decide on a sentence of 161 consecutive life terms without the chance for parole. Later in 2005, acting on a tip; FBI Agents would search a crawl space in

On April 24, 1997 Timothy McVeigh would stand trial for his part in this horrible attack he executed on Oklahoma City.  When all evidence was heard and closing arguments were silenced, it took the jury 23 hours to come back with a verdict.  The gury would find McVeigh quilty on eleven counts of murder and conspiracy.  The defense for McVeigh tried to get a reduced sentence of "Life in Prision", but it wasn't going to fly this time.  McVeigh would be sentenced to DIE!

In May of 2001, the FBI made it public that they had withheld over 3000 documents from McVeigh's defense team.  A stay of execution was ordered until further review of the documents could be made.  On June 6, 2001 Judge Richard Paul Matsch ruled that none of the documents could prove McVeigh's innocents and ordered the execution to go forward.  Because McVeigh was sentenced to Death in a Federal Court, the President had to approve the execution.  Once President George W. Bush approved the execution he was sentenced to die by leathal injection. 

On June 11, 2001 Timothy McVeighs sentence was carried out at a U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana by leathal injection.  The execution was witnessed over closed circuit TV so that the relatives of the victims could witness his execution if they so chose to do so.  McVeigh's execution would be the first for the Federal Government in 38 years.

Other accomplices were Michael and Terry Fortier.  Michael helped case the Murry Building prior to the bombing and his wife Terry helped laminate the fake ID that would later be used to rent the Ryder Truck that was used in the bombing.  In exchange for his testimony against McVeigh and Nichols, Fortier received a reduced sentence and his wife received immunity by the request of her husband for his testimony.  Fortiner was released early on good behavior and is now in the Witness Protection Program

In the wake of this devastation, Congress has enacted new legislation, new safeguards have been set in place for current Federal Building and new construction guidelines have also been created for new construction. In wake of the attack on Oklahoma City, the new security measures put in place at all Federal Buildings cost in excess of $600 million.
Oklahoma City Memorial

The outdoor symbolic Memorial was dedicated on April 19, 2000.  The Memorial Museum was dedicated on Presidents Day on February 19, 2001.
My first visit to the memorial was in October of 2007 with my mom and cousin who were visiting for the first time from Michigan.  I was not really sure what to expect when I arrived.  The first thing that I came to was the chain link fence that leads up to the large walls that seperate the outside world from the inside where the reflection pool is located and the chairs that represent each of the 168 victims who lost their life.

The first that I remember seeing was this mass ocean of flowers, teddy bears and the one thing that stood out the most was a "Fireman's Jacket".
photo taken by:  Rene Young

photo taken by: Rene Young

The photos above were taken in October of 2007 and the amount of offerings to remember victims by is overwhelming.  A friend who worked the OK City Bombing told me that the stuff is frequently collected after a time and placed in storage.  At that time, no one knew exactly what to do with all the stuff.

After you get past the fence and all the gifts you come to a large wall with an opening in it.  At the top of the wall it reads:  We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.

As I entered the "Gates of Time" it was as if time stood still!
Once inside the reflection pool area it was as if the whole world had stopped.  I don't remember hearing the outside traffic noise.  One forgets your in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City.  My heart stopped and by breath was taken away by the tranquility of the moment and what I was experiencing.  I reflected back to the day this event had taken place and remembered where I was when I saw what had happened.  I remember seeing all the devastation on TV.  I couldn't believe that something like this had hit so close to home. 

But as I stood in side, I began to realize the magnitude of the events that had taken place on April 15, 1995.  While I knew no one who had been killed, I could not help control the amount of emotions that began flooding my being.

As you enter the gates you are asked to remain silent in rememberance of those lives lost here.
photo by:  Rene Young
As you enter the door through the "Gates of Time"  you see another wall and in between them is a winding stair area for visitors to work their way through.  On the other side of the wall you first see the reflection pool in front of you and to your right the chairs that represent those who lost their lives. At night the chairs light up so that visitors my see them in the reflection pool.  If one will look closely, they will notice there are two different size chairs.  The smaller of the two represent the children who lost their lives in the blast.  On the birthday's of the victims, the light in the chair is changed to a different color so.   The wall at the end of the reflection pool reads 9:01 am (the time just before the bomb exploded) and the wall you pass through as you enter into the reflection pool reads 9:03 am (the time that everything stopped).  The bomb exploded at 9:02.

To the left is a walk way that leads to the Museum.  As you approach the front you will see a wall which was made from tiles created by school children across the USA.

photo by: Rene Corwin

photo by: Rene Corwin

This is a photo of one of the many individual tiles that create the wall in front of the Museum.

In front of the wall is a large "CHALK BOARD" area for children to write messages to the victims and their families.  Because it is hard for children to remain quiet, this is a place for them to express their feelings and emotions without silence....

The folowing photos were taken by Rene Corwin during our visit to the Memorial.  My youngest son Dustin and her grandson Gabe both left messages for the victims and their familes.  While Gabe was really to young to realize what was going on, my youngest son was not.  His message touched my heart and made me stop and realize just how this event touched everyone; even those to young to know. 

Sarah and her son Gabe

My youngest son Dustin and his message....

We come here to remember

those who were killed, those who survived
and those changed forever.
May all who leave here know the impact of violence.
May this memorial offer comfort, strength,
peace, hope and serenity.