Etgar 36

Tulsa & Oklahoma City

– Sammy Feldman

The day started with a short bus ride into Tulsa, Oklahoma, specifically the Greenwood District, where we visited a museum called Greenwood Rising. At the museum, we learned the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre through images, videos, and testimonies from the survivors. This museum taught me what the massacre was, as it wasn’t taught to me in school, and all I could think of was how so many people haven’t heard of such a terrible event in history, especially an event that killed and devastated so many, leaving thousands of people out on the streets of Tulsa.

After the museum, we took a short 10-minute walk over to the Woody Guthrie Center, where we learned about his work and how he influenced other genres of music, including rock, punk, and disco. While learning about him, we saw his works, including the original copy of “This Land is Your Land.” Doing so was interesting to me because I got to see the original idea for the song and how it could have been different. We also got to see one of his guitars and learned about his political views, including how many of his views are still relevant today.

After the Woody Guthrie Center, we said goodbye to Tulsa and took an hour-and-a-half-long bus ride over to Oklahoma City, where we drove past the capitol building of Oklahoma. We went to the OKC bombing site, where we learned the story of the bombing that occurred there and the events leading up to it. It was interesting to hear the stories of what happened while standing where the tragedy had occurred. The memorial was very well thought out and touched me because each person wasn’t just a tombstone or a plaque. While all of the people who were killed were on a plaque, each person was represented by a chair, with children being small chairs and adults being large chairs. What helped me to picture their lives was how each chair was located at an estimate for where everyone was at the moment of the bombing. It touched me how each chair represented how everyone had a life ahead of them that was cut short by a tragedy. Each chair gave a sense of humanity to the place and acted as a way for the people to be more relatable to me. The chairs were a reminder that each of these names was an individual person with their own life and their own family. 

After going to the memorial, we lightened up the mood with pizza and mini golf while celebrating Jonah’s 19th birthday. While driving to the hotel, Billy asked us if we wanted to see the memorial again at night. Each chair had a light under it, and the reflective pool looked like a bottomless pit. After walking around for a bit, I got a sense of why there was a reflective pool, and I understood that it was there to give more depth to the chairs and how each person had their whole life ahead of them before 9:02 that morning. After we walked around, Billy talked to us about his personal experiences with events like these, giving us insight into what he felt and what he experienced when something similar happened to him. For some reason, this hit me like a ton of bricks. Throughout the trip thus far, we have been talking about serious topics and heard testimonies from many different people who were there when it happened, but this gave us insight into how the people around the victims are affected. This also made me realize that these terrible events could happen to everyday people like you or me. This day has been heavy enough, and it made me both tired and excited for a new day tomorrow.