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A moment for reflection


It’s amazing how much can change in one minute.

I was 13 years old when Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in April of 1995.

I remember hearing about it at school that day, and I remember feeling a strange distance between myself in Kentucky and the victims in Oklahoma. Now that I’m here, standing at the site itself, I am disconnected no longer.

It was one minute — 9:02 a.m., specifically —¬†that change Oklahoma City and the rest of the country forever. Today, that moment in time is commemorated between two large ‘Gates of Time,’ one marked 9:01 and the other marked 9:03, at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. In between, a large reflecting pool symbolizes that one horrid moment of violence.

There is no other memorial like this in the country, where every element is so symbolic, so visceral, and so moving. From the large Gates of Time (pictured above) to the field of empty chairs (pictured below) representing the victims killed in the attacks, this memorial brings the personal tragedy of that day to the forefront of my mind.

In the memorial’s museum, displays and newsreels detail the attack and the massive recovery efforts that took place in the following days and weeks. The experience is enriching but chaotic, encouraging and yet sobering.

Outside, though, the scene is quiet and peaceful. There is something soothing in the reflecting pool, and something humanizing in these empty chairs. Between the gates, I stand symbolically at one moment in time that happened 14 years ago.

It’s amazing how much can change in one minute.


Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.