There is a wall, really more of an entryway into the park. Above this gateway on the inside the inscription is simply “9:01.” Across the distance of a city block is a twin gateway with “9:03” inscribed above its gateway. I stand between them on the side of an 8,000-gallon reflection pool where a thin layer of water flows over a black granite base. Behind me are 168 memorials resembling chairs. These memorials contain 149 adult size chairs and 19 child size chairs. There are 171 names on these chairs including the names of three unborn children who died with their mothers. Outside the 9:03 gateway there is a memorial fence where visitors and family members leave notes, flowers, and gifts to honor the deceased.
This memorial is to remember the victims and events of April 19, 1995, when a domestic terrorist parked a rented Ryder moving truck filled with homemade explosives outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bomber and his accomplices held anti-government views and were angry over the U.S. Federal Government’s handling of events at Ruby Ridge in 1992 and Waco, Texas in 1993. They also feared governmental infringement on 2nd Amendment rights. When arrested a short time later the driver of the truck wore a t-shirt with the Latin phrase “Sic semper tyrannis.” A phrase attributed to both Brutus as he assassinated Julius Caesar and John Wilks Booth as he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. The phrase means “thus always to tyrants.”
Our question to the Park Ranger concerned the meaning of 9:01 on the eastern gate and 9:03 on the western gate. We learned that at 9:01 AM on April 19, 1995 everyone was going about their normal day. Children were in the onsite preschool, employees were at their desks, some might have been making lunch plans, or on the phone with their spouse reminding them to pick up the children after school. At 9:01 it was all things at usual. By 9:03 everything was different. Citizens, neighbors, and others immediately began rescue efforts, because at 9:02 5,000lbs of explosives destroyed the Murrah Federal Building, cutting short the lives of 171 individuals, causing damage, and breaking windows for blocks around. Within two minutes the world changed.
Two minutes. No not two minutes – one minute or less. Lives changed and lives ended in an instant.
Life can end in instant. One moment you are living life as normal, paying bills, driving to work, sitting in the office or at school, working out at the gym, the next your world is turned upside down. The question is, am I prepared?
With this reality in mind, I remind you of what Peter says, “Therefore, beloved, since you are looking for these things, be diligent to found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless. . .” (2Pe 3:14 – LSB)