Oklahoma City Bombing 20 Years On

Welcome

My 1999 visit to Oklahoma City began here. The Oklahoma line from Fort Worth had only recently been added to Amtrak's route. However, while the station amenities were sparse, the "Welcome" was certainly sincere.

Lion

The first order of business was to visit the Oklahoma City Zoo since it was on the way downtown. This big cat seems to be keeping an eye on things there.

Gorilla

On the other hand, this gorilla was apparently keeping an eye on the lion.

Flamingo

I call this bird a Flamingo, but I'm not sure.

Fox

All of the shots I took at the zoo were thru glass or chain link fence. The glass messed with the focus on several shots. Not having digital meant not making instant corrections for manual focus. In the mean time, even though I'm calling it a fox, I'm not sure what this animal is, either.

Bobcat

I first labeled this guy a leopard, but then of course, I think it is a good old fashioned Bobcat.

Benchmark

After the Zoo I headed into town passing this automobile dealership on the way. "Benchmark" seemed so appropriate for the event.

Ryder

Once in town, I noticed this Ryder truck... like the one Timmothy McVeigh used to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It was the only one I noticed, and it really made me feel pensive for a few minutes.

Murrah

One hundred and sixty-eight people died in the blast including 19 children who were in a first floor daycare. Some reports indicate that 680 people were injured and, according to Wikipedia: “The blast destroyed or damaged 324 building within a 16-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, causing at least an estimated $652 million worth of damage.”

Record

The Oklahoma Journal Record Building was located across the street from the Murrah building and sustained extensive damage.

Escape

One of the buildings where all the glass was blown out.

Memorial

At the time of my visit, the real memorial was all the plush and other personal items hanging on the fence. In a way, maybe more personal than the finished monument.

Entry

The time of the blast is emblazoned on the far wall and in retrospect seems almost to be an omen of the time of impact on 911... nearly six years later.

Joshua

I call this Elm tree after the Joshua Album by U2. The reference seems relevant in many ways when listening to the album.

Angel

Other than the sorrow evoked, I don't if this statue has a specific meaning.

Sanctuary

This Church had provided a public access open area for those who wanted to rest or to say prayers.

Wall

Perhaps not intended, the memorial wall under construction satirically reminds me of the Biblical reference to the 90 foot alter of gold.

Fountain

One of the only seemingly complete features of the memorial in 1999 when I visited.

Where is Elton John?

My trip to Oklahoma City was timed for me to be able to take photos at the Elton John Concert at the Myriad on Saturday, October 30. I arranged through Pace Concerts in advance to take photos front stage for my website. That could be him getting ready for trick or treat in his legendary duck outfit! Clicking on this photo will take you to the April 19, 2015 TOCC.tv cover featuring a photo of the superstar at that concert. Whew... Razor face says the Bitch is Back!

Waterfront

OKC is not a big place but they do have some neat things to do as evidenced by this shot of what is apparently an outdoor mall and Riverwalk. I didn't have time to check it out, but it looks really neat.

Katt

I don't know what this Katt is all about. But, I don't think it's as formidable as the real thing shown earlier.

Amtrak

Although the memorial was not yet complete, there had already been alot of visitors. Folks, including myself, lined up to catch their seat on the train ready to leave town on Sunday morning.

Bridge

Headed back toward Dallas-Fort Worth and points further north including Chicago, and then on to Washington DC, down the Eastern Seaboard, finally to Atlanta, and then Birmingham.

Slide Show Caption Caption

I visited Oklahoma City in October of 1999 on a pilgrimage of sorts. Although I have already presented a slide show in a previous column about McVeigh and the bombing, I have added and recomposed the photos, which are now presented here.


Wow. Looking at the calendar, I cannot believe it has been 20 years since Timmy McVeigh loaded up his Ryder truck with fertilizer and kerosene, parked it next to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in downtown Oklahoma City, and then lit a match to it blowing away nearly half the building.

One hundred and sixty-eight people died in the blast including 19 children who were in a first floor daycare. Some reports indicate that 680 people were injured and, according to Wikipedia: “The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a 16-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, causing at least an estimated $652 million worth of damage.”

The bombing was, of course, a seminal event in American history. It somehow seems wrong to me that 911, as reprehensible as it was, should have so completely over-shadowed the Oklahoma City bombing. I guess every generation has that once in a lifetime event when everybody says: “I will always remember where I was and what I was doing when…” I’m not old enough to say that about when JFK was assassinated, but I sure will remember the OKC bombing that way forever. The fact that it’s been twenty years is really peculiar, because by the time I was ten or fifteen years old, everybody knew everything about JFK, and yet it wasn’t quite real because I was so young when it happened – and at that time, it hadn’t even been 20 years. But, the OKC bombing, and then 911 are so real, and will always be remembered – more than 20 years later.

Prior to his execution on June 11, 2001, when asked if he really intended to kill innocent children, McVeigh timidly replied, “you mean there were children in there?” McVeigh, an ardent pro-life supporter, was satirizing the event as an abortion metaphor.


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© 2015 – Jim Casey
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