Exploring the Open Road

December 03, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

 

After two weeks of military training I figured I would reward myself with some fun. Now before you start coming up with your own conclusions of wild shenanigans, let me assure you that no illegal activities went down. I went to a museum, that was all.

I woke up bright and early on my last day on the road and grabbed my cup of coffee and started my journey. Destination? The Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum.

For those that don’t know me, you may not fully understand the excitement I have for museums. The delight of walking through a place where history is captured. I become immersed in story and it’s almost like we go back in time for a while. Unfortunately the time Ia was stepping back into was not the most pleasant. It tells a particularly gruesome time in Oklahoma’s history; a time of great sorrow and despair.

I suppose you’re wondering why I would be interested in such a museum, where I would be saddened?

I can’t really explain it. The whole Oklahoma City bombing happened when I was very young, so young that I don’t even remember it. What I do remember were the years after when the incident was talked about….in memory. Watching it I wondered, why would anyone do such a thing? What was the point of causing so much destruction and chaos?

Driving through the streets of Oklahoma City, I park in a garage that’s within walking distance. Camera in hand I proceed towards the memorial garden. The entrance way reads “Welcome 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. , and those changed forever.”

Walking down the steps, I felt this sudden rush of silence.

I was one of but a few that morning walking the grounds. Everyone walked amongst a whisper, gazing at the walls that once held the city buildings no longer standing. A reflection pool served as the middle focal point. Shallow and all black, the subtle sounds of the waves of water filled the garden.

Then there was the field of chairs. Each chair belonged to a city worker that was killed in the bombing. The chairs are marked with the name of each employee and organized to show which floor they worked on. We were allowed to walk on the field, touch the chairs, pay our respects to those who unknowingly lost their life that tragic day.   

Inside the museum held the remains of what was left behind from those that filled the streets that day, escaping from the collapsing building. I walked in to see layouts of how the grounds looked back in the 90’s. It’s a little eerie to know that where I was standing is where everything took place. Then came the audios, hearing actual tapes of people from that day. You are taken into a room where an office table and chairs are set up. On that table held a tape recorder and microphone. The audio starts playing and it’s of a hearing from April 19th 1995. You can actually hear the explosion occur, the room goes dark and suddenly the doors open to a scene most chaotic. There are 911 recordings playing overhead as you make your way through a maze of abandoned rumble and personal effects left behind. I’m watching actual footage from that day play on big screens. The display is overwhelming. I’m sure that was the idea though, to have you feel as if you were living in that moment. Each turn brings you to another artifact, a shoe, a pair of glasses, old purse and toys from the children of the daycare. I’m lost for words and continue on.

The next scene is that of the court room and you see items belonging to Timothy McVeigh; his car, personnel belongings from when he was arrested, the handcuffs they used on him. The museum even had the sign from the hotel he stayed at along with the door to his room and check in slip. So many items that tell the story.

Finishing the museum there is but one room left. A pristine room that holds pictures encased in a clear box of everyone that died that day. Some of these boxes held an item that belonged to that person. A trinket from a desk, a religious item they used to pray with, a toy, a pacifier, a service medal. Overhead there is a speaker reciting the names of each individual that is represented here. I stood there reading the names, looking at the pictures and trinkets left to remember those that had passed away. I was the only person in the room, but somehow I didn’t mind, I liked it that way. To be left alone in my thoughts and reflect on what I had just seen. Though I was not present to personally witness such a tragedy I could honor those that had lost their lives.

I had never been to a memorial that was so breathtakingly beautiful that my soul was sincerely moved.

I plan on visiting Auschwitz with my husband for our honeymoon in the near future and I feel like I need to have a serious conversation with my heart.

 

Peace and Love

-Leyda Kanzler

 


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