Day Five - Thursday 30th March, 2006
We did some shopping in Elk City and had a look around before we were back on the I40 and heading for Oklahoma City.
We used the trusty GPS to locate the sight of the Oklahama City bombing of 19 April, 1995.
On the site now there is a memorial to the 168 people who lost their lives. It is very tastefully done with a reflecting pool flanked by two large "gates", one inscribed with the time 9:01, the opposite with 9:03, the pool between representing the moment of the blast. On the south end of the memorial is a field full of symbolic bronze and stone chairs—one for each person lost, arranged based on what floor they were on. The chairs represent the empty chairs at the dinner tables of the victim's family. The seats of the children killed are smaller than those of the adults lost. On the opposite side is the "survivor tree", part of the building's original landscaping that somehow survived the blast and fires that followed it. The memorial left part of the foundation of the building intact, so that visitors can see the scale of the destruction. Around the western edge of the memorial is a portion of the chain link fence which had amassed over 800,000 personal items which were later collected by the Oklahoma City Memorial Foundation.
As soon as these personal items are removed they are replaced by others and it is heart wrenching to read the messages and see the teddy bears and other items left in memory of a lost one.
In front of the memorial is a statue of Jesus weeping for the victims who died in the bombing.
Needless to say the bombing was big news all over the world and it was interesting to see the site and somehow, in some small way, pay our respects.
After a few hours at the bombing site we headed on. It was quiet in the car as we reflected on what we had just seen.
Sadly we left the I40 at Oklahoma City as we headed up the I44 and through Tulsa on our way to Missouri and our next major stop in St Louis.
It was raining as we drove through Tulsa, big city but we didn't stop. We did think of one of our favourite singers, Gene Pitney who we later found had died around this time whilst on tour in the UK.
We managed to cross the border into Missouri and stopped for the night in a little town called Joplin. We stayed at a Days Inn and were warned that if we heard a siren going we should make our way to the lobby as there was a tornado warning in place. Nice to know.
We had dinner at an Applebees, great service and food.
325 miles but a pleasant but somewhat sombre day.