Museum symbolizes Oklahoma City's resilience
On April 19, 24 years ago at 9:02 a.m., a bomb exploded in a Ryder truck parked at the north entrance of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring approximately 850. The City of Oklahoma City's Final Report estimated property damage to more than 300 buildings in a 48-square-block area.
In that instant, the face of Oklahoma City was forever changed. Despite the unspeakable tragedy, the people of Oklahoma banded together in a community-wide display of spontaneous self-sacrifice. Private cars and trucks were used as ambulances. Strangers pitched in to help those in need. Whatever was needed to be done, the citizens of Oklahoma City did. That spirit of generosity – now globally known as the Oklahoma Standard – has been part of the city’s DNA ever since it was founded.
In the aftermath of that day, then-Mayor Ron Norick appointed a 350-member Memorial Task Force, charged with developing an appropriate memorial to honor those touched by the event. The national memorial was authorized on October 9, 1997, when President Bill Clinton signed the Oklahoma City National Memorial Act of 1997. It was administratively listed on the National Register of Historic Places the same day.
The memorial was formally dedicated on April 19, 2000, the fifth anniversary of the bombing, and opened the following year on February 19.
In January 2015, the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum celebrated the grand re-opening of a world-class museum following an $8 million enhancements project. According to MaryAnn Eckstein, the museum’s director of media, the improvements include 35 new interactive exhibits, hundreds of never-before-seen artifacts and thousands of pieces of video and oral histories.
In the cutting-edge, Uncover-Discover STEM Lab, students connect with the past and also learn how they can individually impact the future. New interactive exhibits take visitors along the FBI trail of evidence. A 40 foot glass balcony connects the Museum with the outdoor Memorial grounds and the ever-changing downtown Oklahoma City skyline.
The human side of the story, still the most important one, is told by those most deeply impacted including those who lost family members, those who survived, rescue workers, and the investigation and justice teams. A powerful story unfolds – one that’s as relevant today as ever.
The annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, known as the Run to Remember, started in 2001 with less than 5,000 participants, now hosts around 25,000 runners from around the world who gather each year to honor the victims of the bombing. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is the sole beneficiary of Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon event proceeds.
It’s more than just another marathon. It’s a celebration of life.