The announcement of the largest private gift in the history of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum was described as an “affirmation.”
Bob Ross, president and CEO of the Inasmuch Foundation, announced at a news conference on Thursday that the organization, founded by the late Edith Kinney Gaylord, will make a $3.5 million capital grant gift to the “9:03 Fund.” Through the fund, the memorial intends to raise $10 million for endowment and $5 million to update and enhance the museum. Thursday's announcement brings the campaign total to $11.1 million and will allow construction to begin this year.
The campaign's 9:03 Fund reflects the future and the responsibility that comes with it. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building occurred at 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995. At 9:03 that morning, the responsibility of remembering and educating began, memorial officials have said.
John and Charlotte Richels and Mike and Susan Turpen co-chair the 9:03 Campaign.
“What this is, it's an affirmation by a very important organization in this city of just how important the memorial is to the city, how intertwined it is with the city, how it reflects what's become known as ‘The Oklahoma Standard' and how each one, the city and the memorial, are a reflection of one another,” John Richels said following the announcement by Ross at the Memorial Museum. “It's going to let us teach the lessons that were learned from that to a whole new generation of people. This is very, very important.”
The enhancements would include a change to almost every area of the museum. While the core story does not change, it will be enhanced by using new artifacts, evidence from the trial and new technology. There also will be a second-floor glass overlook “allowing us to integrate the museum with the outdoor symbolic memorial,” said Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
Gaylord founded the Inasmuch Foundation in 1982 to support charitable, scientific and educational causes that enhance the progress and quality of life for Oklahomans. Today, the foundation is committed to carrying on the interests of its late founder by supporting education, health and human services, and community enhancement.