St. Louis to Oklahoma City (525 miles so far)

Today started with Beck and me completing the loading up of the van, and doing the last check of everything to make sure we had taken care of everything. The van was stuffed, and it didn’t seem like there was anything we didn’t have with us — probably a lot of surplus items!

We left in the rain. We drove in the rain. It rained all day, which made for a tough slog.

(BTW, what’s with all the toll roads in Oklahoma? Is the state on a rent-to-own plan, paying money to Texas until they’ve payed it off?)

As we hoped we would, we got to Oklahoma City right at sunset, and drove downtown to see the Oklahoma City Memorial. From the time we got out of the van, I was struck with the sense that we were on hallowed ground. Everyone spoke quietly, and clustered in small groups, keeping kids in line.

Across the street is a memorial, with a life-size Jesus, sobbing. The statue stands atop a marble block, with “And Jesus wept” inscribed. That’s a very moving tribute, and really put the visit into perspective.

Outside the structure is a chain link fence, and covering the fence from end to end, are all kinds of memorabilia left by family and strangers, residents and visitors. Everything from keychains to license plates, photos to poems, adorned the fence. It’s obvious to me that this terror strike on US soil really hit home, years before 9/11 hardened us once more to terror on our shores.

It’s hard to realize that a building stood here once. It’s a beautiful park, with a shallow reflecting pool and two monolithic structures at either end, marked with two different times — presumably the time of the blast and collapse. These dominate the park.

There’s also a field of copper chairs, each atop a glass block, inscribed with the name of someone lost in the building. There are even smaller chairs for the children that were lost in the daycare. As tomorrow is Easter, some of the children’s chairs had Easter bunnies in them. A touching, telling reminder of the lights extinguished in this horror. As the sky grew darker, the chairs were lit in an eerie reminder of this loss.

As we walked around and read the plaques, we found out we were there just days before the ninth anniversary of this tragedy.

It is beautiful, and fitting, but a crying shame that it’s needed at all.

We were there too late to visit the museum — that’ll be on another trip.

Between the drive and trying to get our minds around this memorial, we found ourselves exhausted, and found a hotel near the airport, and crashed, hoping to be refreshed physically, spritually and mentally for tomorrow’s drive.