Fourteen GEAR UP students from Pittsburg Public School recently toured the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum located in downtown Oklahoma City. The Memorial commemorates the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.
After viewing a brief introductory video, students toured the Memorial Museum following the timeline that led them through the story of the bombing from early in the morning of April 19, 1995, to the days and weeks that followed the tragedy. Students examined the artifact cases which held the victims’ personal items including car keys, eye glasses, shoes, and photographs and observed the technology of the time period. They also read and watched the stories of rescue and recovery shared by trapped survivors, rescue workers, and volunteers.
The Gallery of Honor was the final stop for the students before leaving the indoor museum. Inside this sobering exhibit, students viewed personal photographs and artifacts of the 168 men, women, and children who were killed. The young people were reminded how April 19, 1995, affected not only the families of those who lost their lives, but how that day forever changed the country.
The tour continued at the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial; included are the Survivor Tree which withstood the full force of the attack and the Field of Empty Chairs which represent the 168 lives taken during the bombing. As the students left the outdoor memorial, they placed bracelets and other tokens of hope on the fence which surrounds the Murrah Building. Today, more than 200 feet of the original fence gives visitors the opportunity to leave expressions of hope and love as reminders of the support of a nation.
“Placing items on the fence in honor of those who lost their lives was a very sobering experience for the students,” said GEAR UP Education Coordinator Denise Lovell. “Their reactions today prove that Oklahoma truly is the heartland of America!”
The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College’s GEAR UP program. 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 serves over 3,000 students in 39 area schools.