Thirty-seven Haileyville seventh and eighth grade GEAR UP students recently visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City. The museum and memorial were established to remember and honor those who were killed, those who survived, and those who were affected by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
In the months after the bombing, it became apparent that there was overwhelming support for the creation of a permanent memorial and museum. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was home to 17 federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Social Security Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It also housed the America’s Kids Day Care. More than 450 people worked in the building, and numerous civilians visited the building daily.
Haileyville students began the day with Amy Rodriquez, Visitor Services Representative, providing an introduction and overview of what happened on the historic day. Then students began the self-guided tour through the museum, which offers an interactive learning experience. Students watched an introductory video about the museum, and then listened to a recording of a group water permit requisition hearing minutes before the bombing. The recording captured the first sounds of the bombing.
The museum is divided into different sections describing the timeline of events. Students learned about the events leading up to, during, the weeks after, and the years after the bombing. The next section of the museum offered viewing of live news coverage as well as debris found at the scene. Students viewed a video of survivors who shared their recollections of the events. Immediate and continued rescue efforts were made. Rescue crews from all across the nation helped during the time. Two weeks after the bombing, search and rescue shifted to search and recovery.
During the next section of the museum tour, students learned about the bombing investigation and suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
At the end of the tour, students visited a gallery of honor that remembers each person killed during the bombing. The Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people and orphaned 30 children. The gallery holds artifacts in each case—chosen by the victims’ families—that provides a sense of the uniqueness and life of their loved ones.
“What happened on April 19, 1995, is a part of history that has affected our state and nation in numerous ways,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator, Brianna Brassfield. “Although these students were not born yet, it is important for them to learn about this huge event in Oklahoma history. The museum and memorial shows that although it was a time of tragedy and terror, it also was a time of humanity and courage.”
Outside of the museum is the memorial dedicated to the events. The memorial is on the grounds where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood. Chairs are placed in the same spot where the victims died. Different size chairs represent the children and adults killed during the bombing.
After touring the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, students enjoyed the lunch buffet at Golden Corral. During lunch, students shared their favorite experiences at the museum as well as things they learned throughout the day.
The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Participating schools take two field trips each academic year—one to tour a college or university and one that is cultural/educational in nature. In 2017, Eastern recently received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant and will serve over 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.