Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Weekend of Emotions! ;)

Saturday was an exciting day for Emma! Her friend, Niecey flew in to stay with us for about 10 days. You probably remember Niecey - we helped raise this tiny little girl from 4 months old until we moved back to OK when she was 4. Emma & Niecey had never remembered not having each other around every day, and it was a big adjustment. Luckily, they pick up right where they left off, and call each other "sisters" - which is pretty much what they are!
Niecey's aunt, Michelle (Auntie Chelle) came to drop her off, and left this afternoon. Instead of driving back and forth, we decided to stay the night in the city and sightsee until it was time to see her off to the airport. Luckily for the kids, our hotel had a nice pool!

Last night, we decided to go down to Oklahoma's Bricktown district. It used to be a large, run down, crime ridden area of the city, full of abandoned warehouses that the railroad left high & dry. They decided to redo this area into a really nice riverwalk area with lots to do & see! There are horse-driven carriage rides, street vendors, and lots of cute little stores & restraunts. We decided to take the girls on a "Water Taxi" ride. It floated us around the Oklahoma River canal and we got to see a lot of Bricktown.
Waiting in line!
All aboard!
Emma brought her camera, and Niecey used my small camera. Between the three of us and Auntie Chelle, I think we got the pictures covered! :)
The lady behind the lens! - Photo by Niecey
Auntie Chelle!
Emma's self portarit
This morning was a pretty early one, thanks to Evan's teething again (boo!). We got up & ate a yummy breakfast at the hotel before we started out for the day. Then, off we went to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. The indoor museum didn't open until 1:00, but the outdoor portion is open 24 hours a day, so we walked around there first.
The girls looking at all the items on the fence outside the memorial. (Both on ipods) The first Fence was installed to protect the site of the Murrah Building. Almost immediately, people began to leave tokens of love and hope on the Fence. Those items now total more than 60,000! and are collected and preserved in the archives. Today, more than 200 feet of the original Fence gives people the opportunity to leave tokens of remembrance and hope. The girls were especially interested in the mini beanie babies & littlest pet shop toys left. ;)
Here is the main entrance to the memorial. There is one of these "Gates" at each end of the memorial. These 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 time is carved on the inside walls of the gates) 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.
My boys & Auntie Chelle
Right as we enter, you can look across the reflecting pool to the other gate.It kinda reminds me of the Washington Monument. The pool occupies what was once N.W. Fifth Street. Here, a shallow depth of gently flowing water helps soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. The placid surface shows the reflection of someone changed forever by their visit to the Memorial. Though today, it was so hot, I think a lot of us were wishing we could jump in and roll around in the nice cool water!
These are the empty chairs, probably the most humbling part of the memorial. The 168 chairs represent the lives taken on April 19, 1995. They stand in nine rows to represent each floor of the building, and each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children. The field is located on the footprint of the Murrah Building. Each chair lights up at dusk, like little crystal stars. I can't wait to go back & see them!The girls had fun reading names off the chairs, looking for someone named the same as a friend or family member. It's hard to grasp the reason for the memorial, after all ;) Luckily, they never found an "Emma" or "Niecey", and got bored before finding the small child's chair of a little boy named "Elijah".
They almost immediately noticed the children's chairs on the second row (the daycare of the building), as they are smaller than the adults' chairs. Seeing my daughter walk among these small chairs reminds me of how blessed I am that my two little children are here, safe & healthy.
On the east end of the Memorial stand the only remaining walls from the Murrah Building. These walls remind us of those who survived the terrorist attack, many with serious injuries. Today, more than 600 names are inscribed on salvaged pieces of granite from the Murrah Building lobby. Emma figured this out on her own, pointing up at the cracked and torn concrete above us.
To one side of the reflection pool is an orchard dedicated to the heroes of the bombing. It encircles the Survivor Tree.The Survivor Tree, an American Elm, was there on April 19, 1995, and withstood the full force of the attack. Years later, it continues to stand as a living symbol of resilience. The orchard surrounding it (planted afterwards) surrounds and protects the Survivor Tree. An inscription encircling the Survivor Tree facing the orchard reads: "To the courageous and caring who responded from near and far, we offer our eternal gratitude, as a thank you to the thousands of rescuers and volunteers who helped".
Above, at about the second floor level, there is a memorial overlook. This is especially touching to view, not only because you can look over the entire memorial, but also, you can view the fenced in, green grassy patch where the daycare playground used to hear the laughter of many of the children who died in the bombing.
Across the street from the memorial is this statue of Jesus. It was erected by St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. Its church was almost completely destroyed in the blast.
It is entitled "And Jesus Wept"
He faces a small brick wall, with small recesses perfect for votive candles or small trinkets. There is one recess for each of the 168 people who died in the bombing.
I lived here when this happened, and many years since, yet I have never felt this sad about the event. Perhaps because I can relate more with the widows, the mothers, the families that are left behind with broken lives. As a teenager, I saw the world from a different point of view, and I'm sure as the years pass by, I will feel my emotions change again, not more or less, just changed.
I am thankful that my own children, a new generation, can run and play among the memories of those who perished, and know that because of those sacrifices, my children, and yours, will be more prepared, more on the defense, and more safe during their lives here.
I encourage everyone to see the memorial at some point. It's beauty & symbolism are really awe-inspiring! Now I am more anxious than ever to see Ground Zero!
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