Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001, are dates that will live in infamy. The tick of a clock at 9:03 a.m. has a similar distinction.
During the sweep of a secondhand on April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building began crumbling. At that moment, says Kari Watkins, “We were charged with moving forward and remembering but also rebuilding our lives and our city.”
Watkins is executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. She's a principal player in the 9:03 Fund, a campaign to raise $10 million for the memorial's endowment and an additional $5 million for capital improvements.
The goal is to meet the target by April 19, 2015, the 20th anniversary of a bombing that took 168 lives and served notice that America wasn't immune from terrorist attacks and that not all such attacks have a connection to Islam.
The 9:03 Fund will support improvements to the museum, which gets no annual funding from the federal, state or local governments. Plans call for a second-story overlook on the museum's south side. Watkins said the overlook will help visitors relate to the outdoor memorial. Visitors on the outside will see the overlook and perhaps decide to spend time inside the museum as well as walk the grounds.
Other museum improvements include enhanced video and technology, to tell a story of terror but also one of a survival, solace and the bringing to justice of those responsible for the bombing. “This story,” Watkins said, “also teaches the consequences of choices made, both good and bad ...”
No one can change the consequences of what happened at 9:03 a.m. that day. But we can continue to honor the dead, comfort the survivors and invite the world to share in our tragedy and our triumph. More than $7 million has already been raised.
The time is right to make sure the rest of the money comes in.