I hopped out of bed this morning with only one thing on my mind, the fourth of July, one of my personal favorite holidays. I dressed particularly patriotic with a blue and white shirt, denim overalls and a red hat. I came down from my room to find many friends dressed in red, white, and blue. We started our way to Oklahoma with singing, laughing and learning more and more about each other. Our first stop was at the Oklahoma state border where we dicussed a hot topic in America: gun control.
By the end of the discussion, many felt frustrated and the conversation continued on the bus. Our second stop in Oklahoma was the memorial for the Oklahoma city bombing that took place in 1995.We talked to park ranger Brandan Crabill who described the memorial.
There are two large gates, one writes “9:01” and the other “9:03”. 9:01 symbolized the innocence before the bombing while 9:03 symbolized the aftermath.
In between each gate stands sixty rows with 168 chairs, representing the people who would not be coming home for dinner that night. The sixty rows symbolized sixty seconds in a minute and how America was forever changed on April 19, 1995 at 9:02.
It was a very powerful experience for many of us. After the beautiful and moving memorial, we went to dinner and an Oklahoma City Dodgers baseball game.
We all had a blast, either from the pure love of baseball or the company. The baseball game concluded with a spectacular fireworks show.
I had a huge smile on my face because this day has always reminded me of being with family and friends. We left, assuming we were on the way to the hotel but we actually pulled up to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial for a second time. Billy gave us the option to visit it again and be able to experience it in a new way or stay on the bus. Many, including myself hopped off the bus. Immediately, we sensed the difference. We saw “9:01” and “9:03” lit up as well as the chairs and names of all those killed that day. We were able to have a more intimate experience with the memorial due to the cool weather, gentle breeze and few people. As we walked through, we heard fireworks in the distance which went right to the core because of how similar the sound was to a bomb. The memorial already was a moving experience during the day but seeing it at night was entirely different. Our attitude had completely changed within seconds from being excited and happy at the baseball game to very serious and intense at the memorial. It proved that anything can change in an instance. All these people were one minute working and the next had passed on or had co-workers, friends and family members pass on. Once we came back to the bus, there was complete silence. Nobody was singing or laughing like the beginning of the day, we were reflecting and thinking. Ending our Fourth of July at the memorial showed us that although the holiday generally is about celebrating and spending time with friends and family, we also need to spend our time thinking about how we are all connected and contribute to this country.