Today marks the 21st anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. On April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City was rocked when a bomb hidden inside a rental truck exploded, taking off the federal building’s north wall. The Oklahoma City Bombing killed 168 people in total. Nineteen of those killed were children who attended the daycare inside the Murrah building. Over 650 others were hurt in the explosion from the Oklahoma City bombing.
According to the History Channel, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were both charged with murder for the Oklahoma City bombing. McVeigh was sentenced to death by lethal injection, which took place on June 11, 2001, six years after the bombing. Nichols is still in prison serving the 161 life sentences to be served consecutively.
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was demolished in May 1995 for safety concerns. Oklahoma City has since built the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum on the same location where the Murrah building stood. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum mission statement reads as follows.
“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.”
The memorial features two different options for visitors. The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial features several stunning exhibits, of which the most awe-inspiring is the Field of Empty Chairs. This exhibit features 168 chairs, one for each victim that died in the bombing. Each floor of the building is symbolized by a row of chairs and the names of each victim from that floor is written on the chair. 19 of the chairs are smaller, representing the 19 children killed in the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Another important exhibit at the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial is the Survivor Wall. This exhibit contains actual standing walls remaining from the original building. Granite pieces retrieved from the wreckage list the names of the 650 plus survivors who were injured during the bombing.
The second feature of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is the Memorial Museum. The museum allows visitors to take a self-guided tour through the events of April 19, 1995, in chronological order. Actual pieces of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building are featured as well as several iconic photos taken the day of the bombing. The self-lead tour allows visitors to go through the experience at their own pace and deal with the emotions the exhibits stir up from reliving the Oklahoma City Bombing.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is unique in the fact it is completely self-sustained. It does not receive funding from any federal, state of local governments. The museum runs solely off admission costs, sales from the retail store and also the fees from its largest fundraiser, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. The marathon was started in 2001 in an effort to raise funds for the museum, but also to remember all the lives lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing on April 19, 1995. The marathon’s motto is, “Run to Remember.” The marathon begins with 168 seconds of silence to remember each life lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing.
At its beginnings in 1995, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon has less than 5,000 participants. Today the marathon has over 25,000 runners and hosts runners from all over the world including professional athletes. The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon has become a bucket list marathon for many runners.
The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon features several different races including the full-marathon, half-marathon, relay marathon, Memorial 5k, and the Kids Marathon. This year’s race is being held Sunday, April 24, 2016 starting at 6:30 am. The marathon is held in high regard in Oklahoma City and is broadcast from start to finish on local news stations.
Today, Oklahoma City holds its annual Remembrance Ceremony. The ceremony also features 168 seconds of silence for the lives lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing and this year’s ceremony featured guest speakers Oklahoma governor, Mary Fallin, and Oklahoma City Mayor, Mick Cornett. Tulsa World shares that the anniversary of the bombing is the one day each year the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum offers free admission.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]