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How I Spent My Birthday

23 Jul

It snuck up on me.

It lurked among the other dates on the calendar, hiding in plain sight yet obscured by notes and other plans, and would have passed nigh unnoticed. But then Bubba saw a TV commercial and got a hankerin’ for hamburgers, so we all piled into the van and headed across town to a grill where the food is an unexpected but tasty mix of flavors.

Afterward, we needed somewhere to go. The weather was nice, the Oklahoma City bombing memorial was a few blocks away, we’d been planning to go for months, and I had a camera. Why not?

Here are a few shots of the buildings near the site, as well as of the memorial itself:

Methodist church near site (c2013, KB)

Methodist church near site (c2013, KB)

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9:01 Gate (c2013, KB)

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entering the 9:01 Gate (c2013, KB)

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memorial chairs (c2013, KB)

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Survivor Tree — behind curved wall (c2013, KB)

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9:03 Gate and reflecting pool (c2013, KB)

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9:03 Gate (c2013, KB)

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memorial chairs, looking back toward 9:01 Gate (c2013, KB)

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reflecting pool, Survivor Tree, 9:01 Gate (c2013, KB)

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chairs, looking toward the former southern wall of the federal building (c2013, KB)

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Middlest and Littlest listening to the park ranger’s presentation in the shadow of the Survivor Tree (c2013, KB)

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Bubba and Littlest under the
Survivor Tree (c2013, KB)

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Middlest under the Survivor Tree (c2013, KB)

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office building hit by blast (c2013, KB)

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speaks for itself (c2013, KB)

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looking toward Brick Town (c2013, KB)

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across the street (c2013, KB)

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church window (c2013, KB)

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a block away from the blast site (c2013, KB)

A former colleague’s sister was Rebecca Anderson, the nurse who lost her life trying to save others. She wasn’t in the building, but stopped to help, and was hit by falling debris.

This marks the eighteenth year since the bombing. The perpetrators are long dead, executed for their crimes, and only portions of walls remain of the original building. Beauty has risen from ashes.

And yet the memories remain. A man sat on a bench above the chairs, turning his back and hiding his face as we approached. Later, as I stood under the Survivor Tree and scanned the site, an elderly man in white tennis shoes and a fishing hat sat in a chair on the first row. Then, a few minutes later, he rose and walked away.

Strange way to spend my birthday, but a somber, beautiful reminder of life.

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