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This is the end of the innocence

[Oklahoma City bombing memorial East Gate] [Oklahoma City bombing memorial West Gate]

These two images were taken on October 26, 2003, at the Oklahoma City Bombing National Memorial in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. April 19th, 2005, marks the 10-year anniversary of the event.

The photographs above are from the Memorial's "Gates of Time". From the Bombing Memorial Visitor's Guide: "The monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction — 9:02 — and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East Gate represents 9:01 on April 19. This gate marks the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate represents 9:03, the moment we changed forever. The reflecting pool occupies what was once NW Fifth Street. Here, a shallow depth of gently flowing water is intended to help soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. Visitors may see their own reflection, a face of someone changed forever."

Portions of this entry are a rewind to a Shutterblog entry on October 28, 2003. Another entry was also written on October 30, 2003. At the time of the bombing, Todd and I were both residents of the Oklahoma City metro area. We were both born and raised in Oklahoma. He had just graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and I would graduate from there just a few short weeks later. At my graduation ceremony, flags were still being flown at half-staff.

I was a senior about to graduate from the University of Oklahoma on April 19, 1995. I had been up all night studying for an exam, and woke up around 1:30 in the afternoon that day. I later remembered being jolted awake earlier in the morning by what I assumed was a sonic boom from Tinker AFB, but quickly went back to sleep. I decided to get in a workout before work and class — so I hurriedly took a shower, got dressed, and took off in my car without watching TV — completely unaware of what was going on in the backyard of the world around me. I rarely listen to the radio, and had a mixed cassette on in my car that afternoon. I arrived at Tan and Tone America to the most somber atmosphere I had ever encountered. The TVs were all on continuous news coverage, people were crying, and no one was really concerned with their tan or their figure that day.

(Ironically, six years later when our nation's next horrific event occurred, I slept through it as well. There are times now when I'm literally afraid to sleep ever again...)

For the first time, Todd and I visited the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial with his family over the weekend. We had both purposely put off seeing it for this long. We just hadn't been ready 'til now. I spent most of my time walking through the pathways quietly, letting my camera lens absorb the images in front of me. I think somehow deep-down, I needed that buffer zone. Seeing the tiny chairs of the littlest victims was almost more than my heart could bear.

We walked the narrow path,
beneath the smoking skies.
Sometimes you can barely tell the difference
between darkness and light.
Do you have faith in what we believe?
The truest test is when we cannot,
when we cannot see...

I hear pounding feet in the,
in the streets below, and the,
and the women crying and the,
and the children know that there,
that there's something wrong,
and it's hard to believe that love will prevail.

Oh it won't rain all the time.
The sky won't fall forever.
And though the night seems long,
your tears won't fall forever...

—Jane Siberry

It's incredibly hard to believe that ten years have now passed. Seeing the footage and faces on television makes every raw emotion and nerve come flooding back once more. This wasn't something planned and plotted on foreign soil. This was something we did to ourselves. And it was the first time our midwestern — and American — innocence was truly shattered in the blink of an eye.

"Tomorrow is such an important thing in life. It comes to us at midnight, very clean. It's perfect when it arrives, and puts itself in our hands and hopes that we have learned something from yesterday." —Author Unknown

For more photos of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, please visit promoguy.net. Michele has a great tribute — with a list of related links — up today as well.

posted on 04.19.2005 @ 6:42 AM :: mail a comment  
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Original images and works ©2001-2007 to Todd and Robyn
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