We Come Here to Remember ...
Outdoor Symbolic Memorial
The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial stands on the now-sacred ground where the events of April 19, 1995, unfolded. What was once the footprint of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Fifth Street, the Athenian Building and Oklahoma Water Resources Board are now the Field of Empty Chairs, Reflecting Pool and Rescuer’s Orchard.
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building
The following map shows the layout of the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial. Please note that north is to the right side of the map.
Gates of Time
These monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction – 9:02 AM – and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The 9:01 Gate represents the innocence before the attack. The 9:03 Gate symbolizes the moment healing began.
The pool occupies what was once N.W. Fifth Street. Here, a shallow depth of gently flowing water helps soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. The placid surface creates the reflection of someone changed forever by their visit to the Memorial.
Field of Empty Chairs
The 168 Chairs represent those killed on April 19, 1995. They stand in nine rows, each representing a floor of the Federal Building where the field is now located. Each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children.
On the east end of the Memorial stands the only remaining walls from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. These walls remind us of those who survived the attack – many with serious injuries. Today, more than 600 names are inscribed on salvaged pieces of granite from the Federal Building lobby.
The Survivor Tree
The Survivor Tree, an American elm, bore witness to the violence of April 19, 1995, and withstood the full force of the attack. Years later, it continues to stand as a living symbol of resilience. The circular promontory surrounding the tree offers a place for gathering and viewing the Memorial.
Like the people who rushed in to help, this army of nut- and flower-bearing trees surrounds and protects the Survivor Tree. An inscription encircling the Survivor Tree facing the orchard reads: To the courageous and caring who responded from near and far, we offer our eternal gratitude, as a thank you to the thousands of rescuers and volunteers who helped.
In the aftermath of the blast, children from around the country and the world sent in their own expressions of encouragement and love. That care is immortalized today in a wall of tiles – each hand-painted by children and sent to Oklahoma City in 1995. In addition, buckets of chalk and chalkboards built into the ground of the Children’s Area give children a place where they can continue to share their feelings – an important component of the healing process.
The first Fence was installed to protect the site of the Federal Building. Almost immediately, people began to leave tokens of love and hope on the Fence. Tens of thousands of those items have been collected and preserved in our archives. Today, part of the original Fence gives people the opportunity to leave tokens of remembrance and hope.
The Oklahoma City National Memorial Outdoor Symbolic Memorial was dedicated on April 19, 2000, by U.S. President Bill Clinton.