April 19 is the Day of Remembrance in Oklahoma City. On this day in 1995, The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was blasted into infamy. Until 9/11, this was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. A plaque on the site today offers words of healing:
“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.”
Lest We Forget – by Don Mathis
You pass through the portal
and squint against the sun,
the time, forever, “9:01.”
A twin portal stands
on the other side of the street
forever reading, “9:03.”
In between is the minute
that never should have been
in 1995, April 19.
A pool, for reflection,
infinitely deep in its sorrow.
Walkways to nowhere, no destination,
leads anyone, quickly,
to quiet contemplation.
The power of the empty chair –
think of those who are not there
at the dinner table, the office,
those we miss…
Imagine, 168 empty chairs such as this.
Glass shards and stone
once showered a tree.
It gives me hope to see those leaves.
It’s still alive, still survives,
a symbol of the will of the people.
A chain link fence is not a barrier,
it’s a carrier,
a link to the memory of many,
to leave a possession,
to release an emotion.
A fireman’s helmet is hung,
faded and bleached in the sun,
emblazoned, “We will never forget you,”
and signed by a team
that performed the rescue.
A single Teddy Bear brings a tear
for the children that were here.
On the fence, flowers are tied.
Dozens have died.
Thousands have cried.
On the next block,
granite blocks of black,
symbolize the children
who will never come back.
A statue stands, “Jesus Wept.”
This is, after all, the Bible Belt.
Chips and stones from the destruction
now line the paths, their journey done.
the feet of grief may stop its step.
But the Murrah Memorial
will still be here…
Lest We Forget.
Photos: Courtesy of Don Mathis / Top – Fence installed after bombing, covered with items of rememberance
Oklahoma City National Memorial / Bottom – Field of 168 empty chairs bearing the names of someone who died in the bombing.