I was in Oklahoma City this week on a business trip. Having never been there, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to see a beautifully maintained downtown environment. The streets were clean, plants were trimmed, flowers were blooming, and community assistants made sure tourists were finding their ways around appropriately. I'd love to have the mayor of my city tour Oklahoma City. My city saddens me lately in that it is so incredibly depressed.
Anyway, I left my hotel room and walked 4 blocks to the Oklahoma City Memorial. I had wondered how close I would be to the former site of the bombing on April 19, 1995. As I walked along the streets toward the memorial. I kept thinking it was strange to know that such an unbelievable act of violence had taken place on such quiet, well maintained streets where the street signs actually say "Drive Friendly."
I felt slightly queasy upon climbing the stairs.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I still have vivid memories of the TV footage of a fireman carrying the lifeless body of a small little girl with blond hair out of the site.
On a sprawling green lawn, carefully manicured, were chairs that symbolized all of the victims of the bombing. Upon spying smaller versions of the chairs, I felt the tears well up in my eyes. Those poor children, who were just spending their day in the building's day care center. They must have been so scared. I can't imagine.
I also thought about the individuals who were just sitting at their desks, in meetings, or were just walking by on the street. After reflecting on the reflecting pool, I walked along a chain-link fence which was still full of mementos of the victims. Many of the items were faded, but many of the items were carefully maintained. I guessed that their families come periodically to make sure no one forgets.
Even 12 years afterward, it seems so recent. When the bombing happened, it was the first time I realized, as an adult, that some people have no respect for human lives.
So many more acts of violence have happened since then. My trip to the OKC memorial reminded me that I need to enjoy life in the moment.