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Symbolic wall-breaking kicks off enhancements to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

by Bryan Painter Modified: January 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm •  Published: January 8, 2014

Out of the destruction of the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing have come remembrance and education at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

On Wednesday, a symbolic wall-breaking was held to kick off enhancements to the memorial museum.

Donors to the “9:03 Fund” and many other supporters of the national memorial with sledge hammers in hand took a swing at a wall in what will be the new location of the “Gallery of Honor.” The bombing resulted in the deaths of 168 people and in this room are tributes to each who died.

At Wednesday's ceremony, Susan Winchester, chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation Board of Trustees, said phase one of a five-part construction project has begun.

Winchester spoke about the importance of remembrance and education out of destruction.

“Today we are breaking down walls, symbolic in a couple of ways,” she said. “We are embarking on a $7 million, 11-month, five-phase project, to add artifacts and stories that weren't available to us 14 years ago when the museum was originally designed.

“And we're breaking down walls as we teach a new generation of students who weren't even alive in 1995 when the bomb exploded killing 168 people, including my sister, Dr. Peggy Clark.”

Winchester said the story must be told so visitors understand the senselessness of violence along with “the dozens of lessons learned.”

“Our city, our state and our nation are in a very different place than they were nearly 19 years ago,” Winchester said. “Our children learn very differently, and we are about keeping the story relevant, so that children even as young as some of those you see here today can begin to understand what we all learned on April 19, 1995.

“This room will be aligned with 168 display boxes with pictures of each person killed and special artifacts selected by their families. Interactive computers will allow visitors to learn about each of these people and hear stories about them from their loved ones.”

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building occurred at 9:02 a.m. At 9:03 that morning, the responsibility of remembering and educating began, said Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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